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Duck Boat sinking survivor committed to helping families facing trauma

Tia Coleman launching speaker series focused on hope and healing
Tia Coleman
Posted at 10:20 AM, Nov 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-15 13:50:33-05

INDIANAPOLIS — Tia Coleman is on a journey she believes will provide her and others with purpose.

She knows pain and suffering after losing members of her family in a Duck Boat sinking on July 19, 2018, on a family trip in Missouri.

Of the 31 people on the boat, 17 drowned of which 9 were members of Tia's family.

Tia and her young nephew Donovan were among the survivors. Among the nine dead were her husband Glenn and their three children, Reece, Evan and Arya. Other relatives killed include Ray Coleman, Butch Coleman, his wife Belinda, their daughter Angela and her son Maxwell.

"I literally had people sending me letters and messages and telling me how long I should grieve. Somebody told me it was a year, somebody said six months. It baffled me because I couldn't. I don't believe there's a time limit," said Coleman.

It wasn't until this past October, four years after the incident, that Tia was able to visit the gravesite of her husband and kids.

"I cried. I really cried. I hadn't cried like that in a long time. But it wasn't a sad cry. It was kind of a cry of relief. So I don't know, it was like they gave me permission to go forward. I believe they are in heaven because I believe to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. so I believe they are in a better place — a happier place. "

She recently began meeting with groups interested in hearing her message that hope is within reach and healing is possible.

Her presentations don't focus on the day of the vessel's sinking but on dealing with the aftermath of a tragedy and never forgetting the people you love.

" I truly believe that God picked me to be the mother of three of their angels — my three angels now — and wife to my husband. I believe he's a God that makes no mistakes even though sometimes it might feel like it. Our thoughts are not like his and so that is what I trust and I hope and I lean on. And that is the only reason I believe that I am standing right here today," added Coleman.

It has been a traumatic four years for her; a mix of deep gut-wrenching loss, questioning what's next and rediscovering her why.

The last time she spoke to the media four years ago she was living in Indianapolis. In 2018, she moved out of her Indianapolis home and moved out of the state.

We met at Eagle Creek Park because she loves the outdoors and Fall is one of her favorite seasons. I asked Tia to describe who she is today and where she's going.

Her response: "She's a very outgoing, optimistic person full of life, who loves people who are quirky and weird and she embraces all of it. I really don't fit in a box and I'm okay with it. I'm alright with it."