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Captain said not to worry about life jackets before deadly duck boat crash, survivor says

A woman who lost nine family members when a duck boat capsized in Missouri’s Table Rock Lake on Thursday said the captain of the boat told passengers not to worry about life jackets before the accident.

>> Read more trending news

Tia Coleman was one of the 11 members of the Coleman family to board the duck boat Thursday, according to WXIN-TV. She told the TV station that she and her nephew were the only survivors of their group.

“My heart is very heavy,” Coleman told WXIN-TV. “I lost all my children, my brother-in-law.”

>> 9 members of one family among 17 killed in duck boat accident on lake in Branson, Missouri

She said that her family members didn’t bother to grab life jackets because they were told by the boat’s captain that they wouldn’t need them.

“When it was time to grab them, it was too late,” she told WXIN-TV. “I believe that a lot of people could have been spared.”

Authorities said 17 people were killed and 14 others injured in the incident, including Coleman’s family members. The family had traveled to Branson for their annual road trip, according to The New York Times. Carolyn Coleman told the newspaper that the victims came from three generations of the Coleman family and included four young children.

>> Deadly duck tour boat crashes date back nearly two decades

The president of the company that owns Ride The Ducks Branson, Ripley Entertainment, told “CBS This Morning” that the boats have life jackets onboard but he added that passengers aren’t required by law to wear them. Jim Pattison said that, given the weather conditions, the boat “shouldn’t have been in the water.”

"Usually the lake is very placid and it's not a long tour, they go in and kind of around an island and back,” Pattison told “CBS This Morning” on Friday. “To the best of our knowledge – and we don't have a lot of information now – but it was a fast-moving storm that came out of basically nowhere.”

Authorities continue to investigate the circumstances leading to Thursday’s deadly incident.

Survey: Black millennials are more religious than other millennials

Black millennials are more religious than other members of their generation, according to a new analysis from Pew Research Center.

>> Read more trending news

The analysis, based on data from the Center’s 2014 Religious Landscape Study, revealed that 64 percent of black millennials are highly religious compared to 39 percent of nonblack millennials. Religious commitment was measured by a four-item scale which includes belief in God, self-described importance of religion, prayer and worship attendance.

More than half of black millennials (61 percent) said they pray daily compared to 39 percent of nonblack millennials, while 38 percent of black millennials said they attend religious services at least weekly compared to 25 percent of nonblack millennials. 

>> On MyAJC.com: Every Day Is Sunday: As atheism rises, nonbelievers find one another

Black millennials are also more likely to read scripture outside of religious services than nonblack millennials and 61 percent of black millennials said they feel a deep sense of spiritual peace and well-being at least weekly compared to 50 percent of nonblack millennials. 

Millennials as a whole (the generation born between 1981 and 1996) are generally less religious than other generations, according to a number of recent surveys from Pew Research Center. This pattern is also seen among black millennials when comparing them to older black Americans.

>> Are families taking religion out of Christmas?

Black millennials are less likely than older blacks to say they pray daily, attend religious service weekly or that religion is very important to them. They are also less likely than older blacks to read scripture outside of religious services or report a deep sense of spiritual peace and well-being at least weekly.

A previous analysis from Pew Center showed that older African Americans are also more likely than younger black adults to be associated with historically black Protestant churches -- 63 percent of the Silent Generation (born between 1928 and 1945) compared to 41 percent of black millennials.

Only one aspect of religion seems to transcend demographics. Respondents in all of these groups are about equally likely to report feeling a deep sense of wonder about the universe.

Trump: NFL players should be suspended for kneeling during anthem

President Donald Trump said Friday that NFL players who kneel during the national anthem should be suspended as team owners and the NFL Players Association agreed to halt the enforcement of rules regarding the new national anthem policy.

>> Read more trending news

Team owners approved the policy in May. It would require players to stand during the anthem or stay in the locker room or off-field while it’s being played. Players who violate the policy could face a fine.

>> NFL owners approve new national anthem policy, will fine teams that allow players to kneel

The decision to halt enforcement of the policy came after The Associated Press reported that Miami Dolphins players who protest on the field during the anthem could be suspended for up to four games.

>> NFL, players union agree to halt new anthem policy for now, seek resolution

“The NFL National Anthem Debate is alive and well again – can’t believe it!” Trump wrote Friday on Twitter.

“Isn’t it in contract that players must stand at attention, hand on heart? The $40,000,000 Commissioner must now make a stand. First time kneeling, out for game. Second time kneeling, out for season/no pay!”

There is no requirement that NFL players stand during the national anthem.

>> NFL Players Association files grievance over anthem policy

The president has consistently slammed players who have chosen to kneel during the anthem, framing the protest as un-American. Then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick was the first to kneel during the anthem in a silent protest against police violence in 2016. The protest got mixed reactions, but other NFL players later followed Kaepernick’s lead to protest inequality.

>> Trump: NFL players who kneel ‘maybe shouldn’t be in the country’

Trump suggested last year that NFL team owners should fire players who refuse to stand during the anthem, telling a crowd in Alabama that “that’s a total disrespect for our heritage.” He told Fox News’ “Fox and Friends” last month that players who decide not to stand for the anthem “maybe ... shouldn’t be in the country.”

Heart doctor for former President H.W. Bush killed in bicycle drive-by shooting 

A cardiologist who treated former President George H.W. Bush was shot and killed Friday in a bicycle drive-by shooting near Texas Medical Center in Houston.

>> Read more trending news 

Police said Dr. Mark Hausknecht, 65, was riding his bicycle near Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women just before 9 a.m. on Friday when he was shot by another bicyclist going in the other direction, Houston Police tweeted.

The man fired two shots at Hausknecht before taking off on his bike, police said.

Hausknecht was on his way to work at the time, KTRK reported. A witness flagged down a private ambulance driving by the scene. Emergency crews rushed him to a nearby hospital, where he later died.

Investigators do not know if the shooting was random or targeted, or possibly the result of road rage.

Jim McGrath, spokesperson for former President H.W. Bush, 94, issued a statement on Twitter.

“Mark was a fantastic cardiologist and a good man,” President Bush said in the statement. “I will always be grateful for his exceptional, compassionate care. His family is in our prayers.”

The suspect in the shooting is still at large, CNN reports. He is described as a 30-year-old white or Hispanic man, wearing a tan baseball cap, grey jacket, khaki shorts and riding a light-colored mountain bicycle. 

9 members of one family among 17 killed in duck boat accident on lake in Branson, Missouri 

A duck boat accident on Table Rock Lake in Branson, Missouri, killed 17 people Thursday night, including the boat’s driver and nine members of an Indiana family, according to authorities. Fourteen other people were injured.

>> Read more trending news 

Update 8:45 a.m. EDT July 21: The Stone County coroner confirmed to KSDK that William Asher, 69, and his girlfriend, Rose Hamann, were among those killed in Thursday night's duck boat accident in Missouri.

The news station reported that the couple lived in St. Louis County, Missouri. They were visiting Branson to celebrate Hamann’s birthday, which was on Monday, according KSDK.

Todd Dennison’s mother, 64-year-old Leslie Dennison, was also killed in the boat accident, the Kansas City Star reported. In an emotional and brief interview Friday, Todd Dennison told the newspaper that his mother was visiting Branson with his 12-year-old daughter, Alicia, and that they were together for less than an hour before they boarded the duck boat.

He told the Star that while in the hospital on Thursday night, his daughter told him that she could feel her grandmother pushing her upward from below while the boat was sinking.“She said her grandmother saved her,” Todd Dennison told the Star.

Update 1:30 a.m. EDT July 21: Authorities have identified more victims in the duck boat accident.

Steve Smith and his teenage son, Lance Smith, from Osceola, Arkansas, were among those killed in the crash.

Steve Smith was a pastor and Lance Smith was preparing to open his own church in less than a week, according to CNN, first reported by The Christian Chronicle

Steve Smith’s daughter, Loren Smith, suffered a concussion during the accident but survived.

Smith’s wife, Pam Smith, opted to stay behind and was not on the boat.

William and Janice Bright from Higginsville, Missouri, near Kansas City, were also identified as victims in the crash.

WDAF reports that the couple had three children, 16 grandchildren and had been married for 45 years.

“My great nieces and nephews now have no grandparents,” Karen Abbott, William Bright’s sister, told WDAF.

Update 11:00 p.m. EDT July 20: A summer vacation ended in tragedy for nine members of an Indiana family, along with eight other tourists, killed when a duck boat capsized Thursday evening on a lake in Branson, Missouri.

The Coleman family had traveled to Branson for their annual road trip, according to The New York Times, which interviewed Carolyn Coleman.

Coleman said she lost two of her brothers-in-law and that three generations of the family died in the accident, including four young children, the Times reported.

“We just lost some wonderful people,” she said.

The Indianapolis Star reported that the four children killed in the accident were all under the age of 10.

"They were very loved," Ingrid Coleman Douglas said in a telephone interview with the Star.

Coleman Douglas said the victims included two of her uncles, cousins and their children.

"It’s a huge family on all sides. It’s unimaginable. I would never have thought I would have lost this number of people this way," she said.

Coleman Douglas identified the victims as her uncles Horace "Butch" Coleman and Irving Raymond Coleman; Horace Coleman's wife, Belinda Coleman; her cousins, Angela Coleman and Glenn Coleman; Angela's 2-year-old son Maxwell; Glenn's two sons Evan and Reece; and his 1-year-old daughter, Arya.

Glenn's wife, Tia Coleman, and Angela's older son, whose name has not been released, survived the accident, the Star reported.

Update 5:15 p.m. EDT July 20: Stone County authorities now say all 17 of the victims in the duck boat accident have been accounted for and that nine of the victims were from the same family, according to Gov. Mike Parson’s office. Two members of the family, identified by local news outlets as the Coleman family, survived. Officials said the victims range in age from 1 to 70 years old.

Meantime, mourners are putting flowers on the victims’ cars in the Ride the Ducks parking lot, and the community of Branson, Missouri, is holding several candlelight vigils Friday night in memory of those killed. 

One of the vigils is scheduled at Table Rock Lake where the accident happened, according to KY3-TV.

Update 4:30 p.m. EDT July 20: Family and friends are mourning the staggering loss of life on Table Rock Lake Thursday evening.

One woman lost nine members of her family, USA Today reported, citing Gov. Mike Parson’s office.

Update 2:20 p.m. EDT July 20: Branson Mayor Karen Best told The Associated Press that Bob Williams, the man who was driving the Ride the Ducks boat that sunk Thursday in a southwest Missouri lake, was a “great ambassador for Branson” who “was at every event.”

Seventeen people died, including Williams, and 14 others were injured Thursday when the duck boat capsized in Table Rock Lake, according to authorities.

Stone County Sheriff Doug Rader said earlier Friday that the boat’s captain survived.

In a statement posted on Facebook, employees of Ride the Ducks Branson said the business would be closed “while we support the investigation, and to allow time to grieve for the families and the community.”

“This incident has deeply affected all of us. Words cannot convey how profoundly our hearts are breaking,” the statement said. “Thank you for your support, and we ask that your thoughts and prayers be with the families during this time.”

Update 11:40 a.m. EDT July 20: Stone County Sheriff Doug Rader said Friday morning that authorities recovered four more bodies after a duck boat capsized in southwest Missouri, KSMU reported, bringing the death toll from Thursday’s incident to 17.

Rader said 14 people were taken to hospitals after the incident. He said the driver of the Ride the Ducks boat died. The captain survived.

Update 11:20 a.m. EDT July 20: Nearly two decades ago, the National Transportation Safety Board issued a warning about boats with overhead canopies like the one that sank Thursday on Table Rock Lake after a deadly accident claimed 13 lives in Arkansas, according to the Kansas City Star.

The Miss Majestic duck boat was carrying 21 passengers when it sank in 1999 in Lake Hamilton, the Star reported. Authorities found seven dead passengers trapped inside the boat when they recovered it, four of which were pinned to the underside of the canopy, according to the Star.

“Contributing to the high loss of life was a continuous canopy roof that entrapped passengers within the sinking vehicle,” NTSB officials said in an accident report.

Authorities continued searching Friday for four people who are presumed dead after Thursday’s accident in southwest Missouri. Officials said 13 other people have been confirmed dead in the incident.

Update 10:25 a.m. EDT July 20: Stone County Sheriff Doug Rader said divers are going back in the water Friday in search of four people who remain missing and are presumed dead after Thursday’s duck boat accident on Table Rock Lake.

Rader said the search had shifted to “recovery mode for the bodies that are still missing,” at a news conference Friday morning.

"It's been a long night,” Rader said. “It's been a very trying night.”

Rader said the driver of the Ride the Ducks boat died but that the captain survived.

Update 10:05 a.m. EDT July 20: Authorities are expected to provide an update on the investigation into Thursday's deadly duck boat accident in Missouri at a news conference Friday.

Update 9:55 a.m. EDT July 20: President Donald Trump shared sympathies Friday to the families and friends of the people involved in Thursday’s deadly duck boat accident in southwest Missouri.

“Such a tragedy, such a great loss,” the president wrote Friday in a tweet. “May God be with you all!”

Update 8:15 a.m. EDT July 20: Officials with the State Highway Patrol said Friday that two more bodies have been found after Thursday’s duck boat accident in southwest Missouri, bringing the death toll to 13.

 >> On AJC.com: Bahamas boating tragedy brings vacation safety to the forefront

State Highway Patrol Sgt. Jason Pace said four other people remained missing.

Original report: Stone County Sheriff Doug Rader said 14 people were taken to hospitals after the incident. Seven were being treated early Friday, he said.

The boat capsized after a strong line of thunderstorms moved through the area around 7 p.m. Thursday. Rader said weather “was a factor” in the incident.

Authorities said the boat had 31 people on board, including children, when it capsized. 

The boat had life jackets on board, according to CNN. The news network reported that other boats on the water docked before the bad weather hit.

The National Transportation Safety Board has sent a team to investigate and are asking anyone who witnessed the accident to come forward.

A dive team and rescue officials worked through the night to find survivors.

They ended the search around 11 p.m., according to KY3.

Emergency responders set up a staging area overnight on the lakeshore near the Showboat Branson Belle, local media reported, although the Belle was not involved in the accident.

Branson officials opened an emergency shelter inside city hall for the victims.

National Weather Service meteorologist Steve Linderberg said a top wind speed of 63 mph was measured around 7 p.m. Thursday at Branson Airport. 

“There’s nothing to slow down winds in an open area,” he said.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson is watching the developments.

DUKW, known as duck boats, are six-wheel-drive amphibious vehicles that were used by the U.S. military during World War II and the Korean War. 

Since then, duck boat tours have become popular and are offered on lakes and rivers around the United States, including Missouri, Wisconsin, Massachusetts and Alabama.

Ripley Entertainment acquired the Ride The Ducks in Branson in late 2017 from Ride the Ducks International, a subsidiary of Norcross, Georgia-based Herschend Family Entertainment Corp.

Ride the Ducks International manufactures amphibious vehicles and licenses them for tours at affiliates. It also operates duck tours at Stone Mountain Park in Georgia. The company formerly operated tours in several other cities, including Baltimore, San Francisco and Philadelphia. But in recent years it ended operations following deadly accidents. 

In 2015, a Ride the Ducks tour bus collided with a charter bus carrying student on the Aurora bridge in Seattle.

Five students were killed and several others injured.

The Associated Press and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution contributed to this report.

Deadly duck tour boat crashes date back nearly two decades

As families and friends mourn the deaths of 17 people killed on a tourist duck boat in Branson, Missouri, the National Transportation Safety Board is beginning its investigation into what caused the crash.

>>Related: 9 members of one family among 17 killed in duck boat accident on lake in Branson, Missouri 

The tragedy at Table Rock Lake wasn’t the first time a duck amphibious vehicle had been involved in a deadly crash.

Since 1999, 40 people have been killed in deadly crashes involving amphibious tour buses, according to The Associated Press.

>> Read more trending news 

1999: Arkansas

“Miss Majestic” sank May 1, 1999 near Hot Springs, Arkansas in Lake Hamilton. 

The boat was only seven minutes into its tour when it sunk by the stern and went to the bottom of the lake, according to the Associated Press

Thirteen people were killed.

The boat had to be hoisted out of the lake by a crane.

The NTSB report found that roofs or canopies on the duck boats put passengers in danger, because passengers could become trapped underneath them -- especially if they were wearing life jackets, because of their natural buoyancy.

The cause of the accident was determined to be inadequate maintenance of the vehicle, built by the U.S. Army in 1944.

2003: Boston

Rosemary Hamelburg, 63, fell backward off a duck boat into a parking lot while taking a photo.

She died four days later.

Her family filed a wrongful death lawsuit. Her family and lawyers said the duck boat operation failed to follow its own safety policies on board the Boston Duck Tours Boat.

The company settled with Hamelburg’s estate for $425,000.

2010: Philadelphia 

A collision between a duck boat and a stalled tugboat on the Delaware River in Philadelphia caused the duck boat to sink.

Two students from Hungary were killed and over 25 people hurt, WPVI reports.

The NTSB determined that the tugboat operator was distracted by talking to family members on his cellphone and laptop. 

The duck boat was also found at fault -- investigators found the boat had maintenance issues and faulted the captain for anchoring in an active boat channel.

2015: Philadelphia 

Elizabeth Karnicki, 68, of Beaumont, Texas, was hit and killed as she crossed a busy Philadelphia street at rush hour in May 2015.

Her husband argued duck boats have large blind spots and drivers cannot see pedestrians. 

According to the Kansas City Star, he sued the company but eventually settled.

2015: Seattle

Five college students were killed and 69 others hurt after a duck boat collided with a charter bus on Seattle’s Aurora Bridge in September 2015.

The NTSB determined that an axle on the duck boat broke, causing the driver to lose control and slam into the charter bus, carrying a group of international students.

NTSB investigators determined that Ride the Ducks International, the duck boat parent company, violated law by not telling regulators about a safety defect on the duck boat’s axle and failing to recall the vehicle.

The company agreed to pay all penalties. 

2016: Boston

Allison Warmuth, 28, was hit and killed by a duck boat while riding a motor scooter in downtown Boston in 2016, NBC reports.

NTSB investigators found that the duck boat driver took his eyes off the road to point out landmarks along the tour before the accident.

This prompted the Massachusetts legislature to pass a new law prohibiting drivers from serving as a tour guide and driver.  

The duck boats were also required to add new safety equipment, including blind spot cameras.

The  Associated Press contributed to this article

Quadriplegic paraglider raising awareness for ‘disability-friendly’ parks has trailer stolen in Utah 

A quadriplegic paraglider from Missoula, Montana, is asking for public help after his trailer and video equipment were stolen from a park in Utah.

Joe Stone, 33, has been using the trailer to visit parks and paraglide across the country, as part of a film project for his foundation to inspire disabled people to explore the outdoors. 

>> Read more trending news

Stone suffered a permanent spinal chord injury in a paragliding accident in 2010. He is paralyzed from the waist down and has impairment in both of his hands, KPAX reports.

“So I just went all in and living in this camper, it’s my home at this point,” Stone told KUTV.

Stone said he went paragliding on Wednesday at Utah’s Point of the Mountain and returned to his campsite to find all of his belongings had been stolen.

His clothes, computers and filming equipment were all in the trailer -- and it was all custom-made for him to use, according to a Go Fund Me page set up to help him replace the stolen items.

“In this situation, they (the thieves) didn’t know I was a wheelchair user; they didn’t know I was living out of that," he told KUTV. “These campers that I use are built to order, so it’s not like I can just buy one and it comes off-the-shelves, so to speak.”

Visit Stone’s website to learn more about his foundation. 

Go Fund Me page has been set up to help Stone get back on the road.

Transgender woman says CVS pharmacist refused to fill hormone prescriptions

A transgender woman in Phoenix has filed a formal complaint against CVS with the Arizona Board of Pharmacy, after she said a pharmacist refused to fill her hormone prescriptions and humiliated her in front of other customers.

>> Read more trending news 

In a blog on the ACLU of Arizona website, Hilde Hall said it was the first time she filled the prescription for hormone therapy.

“I was finally going to start seeing my body reflect my gender identity and the woman I’ve always known myself to be,” Hall said.

Hall said the pharmacist loudly questioned her need for the medication and wouldn’t give her a clear reason why he wouldn’t fill the prescription, KSAZ reports.

“I nearly started crying in the middle of the store. I didn’t want to answer why I had been prescribed this hormone therapy combination by my doctor,” Hall wrote. “I felt like the pharmacist was trying to out me as transgender in front of strangers. I just froze and worked on holding back the tears.”

Hall also said the pharmacist refused to give her back the doctor’s note so that she could go to another pharmacy. 

Hall said she called the CVS customer service complaint line twice, and when she didn’t hear back, she filed a complaint with the Arizona State Board of Pharmacy.

CVS said in a statement to CNN the pharmacist violated company policy and has been fired. 

Steve Kilar, communications director with the ACLU of Arizona, said CVS spoke with Hilde over the phone on Friday after the incident.

The ACLU of Arizona issued the following statement:

“Hilde appreciates that CVS took her experience seriously. She spoke with a CVS representative today who offered a sincere apology on behalf the company and said that the pharmacist who mistreated Hilde acted outside of the company’s guidelines. Hilde hopes that CVS will make its nondiscrimination policies public, so that transgender and non-binary customers have some assurance the corporation will take appropriate action if similar discrimination occurs in the future.”

911 call released in high school football player's death: ‘I just shot my friend’

Police have released the heartbreaking 911 call a Charlotte teenager made after authorities said he shot and killed his friend, WSOC reports

“I just, I just shot my friend,” Jermarion Worthy can be heard telling the dispatcher. “Somebody just shot through the house.”

“Is anyone injured?” the dispatcher asked.

“He's shot in the head. Someone shot through the house,” Worthy replied.

>> Read more trending news 

Police said Worthy shot his friend Jamie Bright on Sunday inside Bright's home on Clanton Road.

Worthy now faces murder charges in Bright’s death.

Family members said Bright, 18, was a football player for Harding University High School.

He was also a member of the Y-Achiever and Level Up program at the Stratford Richardson YMCA. 

“Jamie was a great young man,” said YMCA executive director Victor Nicholson. “Very respectful young man. Full of energy. Laughing and joking.”

Investigators have not released a motive but said Worthy, 17, stayed on the scene after the shooting and was arrested.

Worthy told police he and Bright were best friends.

Investigators have not said much about what led up to the shooting but confirmed the two teenagers knew each other. 

Bright’s sisters said they were close.

“My brother wanted to go to prom with me last year for my senior year and I went by myself,” sister Tynisha Bright said. “If I knew my brother was never going to go to prom, I would've took my brother with me.”

Friends and family attended a visitation Friday for Bright at Boston's Mortuary on Statesville Road.

Bright’s sister wore a shirt Friday with his picture on it. She and other family members are trying to forgive Worthy for what happened.

“I definitely can forgive him because my family is all about forgiving,” said his sister, Mardesha Bright.

No winner in Friday’s Mega Millions jackpot; prize skyrockets to $493 million

No winners in Friday’s Mega Millions means the jackpot keeps rising -- Tuesday’s drawing has topped $493 million.

It’s possible that the prize could surge over the half-billion mark based on ticket sales, lottery officials state.

>> Read more trending news 

Tuesday’s jackpot of $493 million will be the fifth-largest in Mega Millions history.

If there is a winner and they choose the cash payout, they will take home $296 million.

Friday’s winning numbers were 44-14-30-62-1, with a Mega Ball of 1.

While no one took home the big prize, there were two $1 million ticket winners, in Illinois and Pennsylvania.

There were over 1.8 million winning tickets in Friday’s drawing at all levels, with 47 ticket winners of $10,000.

Tuesday night’s drawing will take place July 24 at 11 p.m. ET.

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