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Father on second duck boat: 'That could have been us'

Posted at 10:24 PM, Jul 20, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-21 00:21:32-04

BRANSON, Mo. -- The Lemus family was on vacation enjoying their ride on a duck boat at Table Rock Lake on Thursday when severe storms hit.

"There was no wind 10 minutes before this whole thing happened," Paul Lemus said.

Then moments later, the wind really picked up.

"I think we weren't in there for maybe 10 minutes before the storm really just came in," Lemus said.




Lemus and his family were riding on a second duck boat. They were behind the duck boat that capsized just after 7:00 p.m.

31 people were on the boat that capsized. 17 of them died. 

His children captured several videos, showing heavy rains, dark skies, and the boat heavily swaying on the waves.

Lemus said plastic coverings lowered down to cover the open windows to prevent water from entering the boat. The winds were so heavy that he struggled to keep the coverings next to his seat closed. 

Lemus said their boat was around 150 feet away from the doomed boat, which was struggling to stay afloat. 

"It just stops you in your tracks," said Lemus. "We were right next to the other boat. That could have been us in the boat."

Their boat made it to shore.

Lemus said their boat shoved off into the water around 7:00 p.m., after the captain had to bring in a replacement boat due to a jammed propellor. 

Lemus said had that not happened, they'd likely be further out on the water when the storm poured down. 

The Lemus family said there were life jackets on board their boat, but no one wore one.

Lemus said the captain explained where the life jackets were located and how to wear one, but they were never instructed to put them on. He said no one expected the weather to get that bad. 

"But I think for the future if they are going to keep doing this, I think it's good practice to go in the water with life vests regardless of the situation," Lemus said.

Lemus said his family didn't think to check the forecast because it was sunny. 

"Sometimes you assume that the company you entrust yourself with is going to do that for you. I don't know to what extent they did or did not," said Lemus. 

His family had a hard time sleeping Thursday night knowing there were fatalities. 

"I heard there was a baby on board. I've got a two-year-old little baby and it's just, you can't begin to comprehend. You don't want to think, but those thoughts keep coming back to you; 'What if, what if,'" said Lemus. 

He said his family is praying and said they can't point the finger.

"Truth of the matter is, it was just an awful accident that happened and there's nothing we can do about it at this point, but I hope that they do learn from this as far as putting maybe better cautionary measures in for the future."