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story.lead_photo.caption Flowers left by mourners sit at the ticket booth of the closed Ride the Ducks attraction Saturday in Branson.

Steve Smith wasn't there to pick up his wife at Branson Landing at the appointed time Thursday evening.

So Pam Smith called his cellphone.

Her husband answered the phone. He was on Table Rock Lake in an amphibious tour boat that was beginning to sink.

"He said, 'It doesn't look good,'" said Lorene Smith, Steve's mother. "He told her he loved her and he loved the kids. She said 'I love you.' And that was it. The phone went dead. But they got to say goodbye."

Steve Smith, 53, and his 15-year-old son Lance, both of Osceola, were among the 17 people who died when the tour boat sank Thursday night.

Steve Smith's daughter, Loren, 14, was among the 14 survivors.

Loren helped rescue another child, her grandmother said.

"Loren felt the other child in the water and held her up floating," Lorene Smith said. "She's a good swimmer, and Lance was, too. She was upset with herself because she couldn't save more children. She said they were all around her crying, but the waves were so bad they kept pushing her away."

Lorene Smith said her granddaughter suffered a concussion when someone rescued her and threw her onto the deck of another boat.

Pam Smith had decided to go to the shopping center known as Branson Landing instead of taking a "Ride the Ducks" tour of Table Rock Lake with her husband and their kids, Lorene Smith said.

Storm warnings had been issued before the tour boat entered the water, and waves were over 5 feet tall.

Loren and her mother, who became overwrought by the loss, have been released from the Cox Medical Center in Branson, Lorene Smith said Saturday.

She said hospital employees went out of their way to accommodate them, taking Loren Chinese food -- her favorite -- and even having a new pair of prescription glasses made for her. She lost her glasses when the boat sank. A Branson police officer stayed with Pam Smith until other family members arrived.

Steve Smith was born in Conway and moved to Osceola in 1966, when he was 2 years old. His father, Carroll Smith, was a teacher who later became superintendent. Carroll Smith Elementary School in Osceola was named for him.

Steve Smith was a deacon in the Osceola Church of Christ. He was retired from teaching math at North Elementary School. Pam Smith also works for the Osceola School District.

"The Smith family was a godsend to the school system and our particular congregation," said Osceola Mayor Dickie Kennemore, who also attends the Church of Christ. "That family, they're there every time the doors are open, volunteering, helping in any way they can. They are one of the foundations of our congregation.

"This has just shaken our whole community to the core."

Will Hester, the minister at Osceola Church of Christ, said Lance Smith spoke before the congregation for the first time last Sunday, delivering a short sermon of sorts on being an example to others.

"They were the best examples of Christian men," Hester said of Lance and his father. "Steve was my best friend, and Lance was like a son to me. It is so difficult to think about this happening, but I know where they are and I know I will see them again. If I can find comfort in anything, I know I can find comfort in that I will see them again."

Lorene Smith said her grandson played soccer and took classes in robotics. Lance was in gifted-and-talented programs, and he was just learning to drive.

"Lance was just a good boy, a very thankful and loving child," she said. "He was in the band and played the tuba. He was a tall skinny boy. He was 15, but he was already 6 feet tall."

Lorene Smith said she was proud of her granddaughter for trying to save other children during the storm.

"She was so brave to do that. ... The child she saved said 'You're my angel.'"

Metro on 07/22/2018

Print Headline: Boat sinking hits home; Osceola dad, one of his 2 kids aboard die

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  • arkateacher54
    July 22, 2018 at 4:57 a.m.

    Heartbreaking. I pray every day for the safety of my family. That prayer has added urgency now.

  • MaxCady
    July 22, 2018 at 5:05 p.m.

    If he knew the boat was sinking and "it doesn't look good" why didn't they abandon ship??!! It sounds like one of those situations where everybody is waiting for somebody else to do something. Sad.

  • Jfish
    July 23, 2018 at 10:51 a.m.

    It's not quite that simple Max, each situation is different, but most people are not going to jump out into 4-foot waves in a lightning and wind storm, especially if they don't have a life jacket. Also, you have children and elderly people. I agree with you, in hindsight, that was there best chance.

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