Friends and family are mourning the loss of 17 people who tragically died when a duck boat capsized during a storm on Table Rock Lake in Branson, Missouri.
Family members who survived the traumatizing event are struggling to come to terms with the deaths of their loved ones.
Among the 17 drowning victims were four children, including 15-year-old Lance Smith from Arkansas.
Lance boarded the tourist attraction with his father, 53-year-old Steve Smith and his sister, 14-year-old Loren Smith.
Wife and mother Pam Smith opted to stay behind while her family enjoyed the ride.
#BREAKING: 2 Arkansans died on the duck boat in Branson. According to church members’s Facebook posts, Steve Smith and Lance Smith, 15, are from Osceola. This is a picture of Lance at the pulpit that’s circulating on social media. pic.twitter.com/WYUkHckUvm
— Stephanie Sharp (@stephmsharp) July 21, 2018
Tragically, Lance perished in the lake, along with his father Steve. Loren was hospitalized with a concussion, but is reportedly back home in Arkansas recuperating, according to KFSM-TV.
Pam Smith phoned her husband as she noticed the life-threatening waves pick up on the lake.
“He said, ‘it’s not good, Pam,'” the grieving wife and mother told CBS News. “I told him I loved him, and he told me he loved me, and I asked him to take care of the kids.”
“That was our last words,” Pam said.
The Smith family was a constant presence at their small town church in Osceola. According to family friend Will Hester, Lance was “like a son” to him.
“I had just baptized Lance, who was 15, late last year,” Hester wrote on Facebook. “This past Sunday I finally was able to get Lance to do a devotional and break out of his shell!”
Hester went on to describe Lance as a humble, compassionate soul. “He cared about everyone,” Hester wrote.
Steve Smith was described as a dedicated teacher who was retired. He served as a deacon at his church.
“No finer individuals in Osceola but these two men and this family,” said Osceola Mayor and close family friend Dickie Kennemore.
Lance’s mother told CBS News that her heart was bursting with pride when Lance spoke in front of the church congregation on the Sunday before his untimely death.
His topic, she said, was on being a good example.
“He had such a big heart,” Pam Smith lamented. “Everybody was his friend.”
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