OSCEOLA, Ark (localmemphis.com) - The tragedy of the duck boat accident in Branson, Missouri hits close to home, as a Mid-South community says goodbye to two of their own who died in that incident.
17 people lost their lives Thursday when a duck boat sank in Branson, Missouri. Among those were a father and son, Steve and Lance Smith of Osceola, Arkansas. That is about 70 miles North of Memphis.
The loss of Steve and Lance Smith brought people from all walks of life to Osceola Church of Christ Tuesday to pay their respects.
"It's just a terrible thing. I just hate it so bad for that family because they were really, really close," said Michael Cox, former Superintendent of the Osceola School District.
The Smith family was vacationing in Branson when the "Ride the Ducks" boat they were in sank during a sudden storm last Thursday. Steve Smith, his 15-year-old son Lance, and Lance's younger sister Loren were on that boat. Steve's wife Pam decided to skip the ride to shop. Loren survived, but her father and brother did not.
"It broke my heart when I found out what was going on. Especially when I found out that I knew people involved. It's just, it's unexplainable," said family friend Emily Nooner.
Steve Smith served as a deacon at the church and taught math for years. Lance was preparing for his Freshman year at Osceola High School.
"Lee and Lance been in school together since 1st grade and they were very good friends. Lee kind of brought Lance out of his quiet shell and Lance kind of help Lee a lot win his loud shell," said Andrea English-Bell, whose son went to school with Lance Smith since the first grade.
The boat is being sent to the National Transportation Safety Board for a full inspection. Family and friends hope no one would have to experience this again.
"Things like this just change a lot of people's lives for now on," Cox said.
Osceola Church of Christ is setting up a memorial scholarship in Steve and Lance Smith's honor. The church is accepting donations. To donate make checks or money orders out to the "Lance and Steve Smith Excellence of Character Memorial Scholarship Fund." Donations can be sent to 105 South Marjorie Street, Osceola, Arkansas, 72370.