But funds are coming into three separate accounts with different beneficiaries, and thus will not be distributed equally among relatives preparing to bury their loved ones, The Star has learned. More than $700,000 is designated for only one survivor.
“It’s divided at this point. ... I just don’t know why,” said Carolyn Tharpe Coleman of Georgia. She said that while the arrangements for some victims were completely paid for, other family members were still processing whether they would have enough to cover funeral expenses, food and other necessities for services planned for this weekend in Indianapolis.
Relatives aboard the duck boat were Horace “Butch” Coleman and his wife, Belinda; their daughter Angela, son Glenn and his wife, Tia; five grandchildren and Horace’s brother Ervin.
Among them, the only survivors were Tia Coleman and Angela Coleman’s 13-year-old son, Donovan. Of the 31 people aboard, 17 died after the boat sank in a severe storm on Table Rock Lake last Thursday night.
A family member and a GoFundMe representative confirmed that Tia Coleman is the sole beneficiary of a fund created by her sister that has raised $709,000 since Saturday for the funerals of her immediate family: husband Glenn and children Reece, 9, Evan, 7, and Arya, 1.
“It’s just for Tia,” said her sister Leeta Bigbee, who created the account and identified herself as Tia Coleman’s spokeswoman.
She said the funds have helped pay for a homecoming service for Tia Coleman’s immediate family, planned for noon Friday at Grace Apostolic Church, 649 22nd St. in Indianapolis. A viewing will be held prior, from 9 a.m. to noon.
Bigbee said she could not speak to who would cover funeral costs for the other family members. She said those who wish to support Donovan could donate to a second GoFundMe that aims to start an educational trust for the boy.
As of Wednesday, the account had generated a little more than $25,000.
GoFundMe confirmed a third account had been set up by the family of brothers Horace “Butch” Coleman, 70, and Ervin “Ray” Coleman, 76. It has raised $75,000 so far.
Carolyn Tharpe Coleman, who is the brothers’ sister-in-law, said that her family traveled from Georgia to Indianapolis last weekend to help with arrangements and that the money in the third account would help pay for the funeral services for Horace, Belinda, Ervin, Angela and Angela’s 2-year-old son, Maxwell.
Services for these family members will be at noon Saturday at Eastern Star Church, 5805 Cooper Road in Indianapolis, according to the Indianapolis Star. Public visitation will be from 8 a.m. to noon, and the services are open to the public.
“We have a dedicated team working on all campaigns related to the tragic accident in Missouri, and we have seen an outpouring of support for the victims of this tragedy,” said Katherine Ciphy, GoFundMe spokeswoman.
Ciphy said GoFundMe would work with the creators of the fundraising campaigns to ensure “the safe and transparent transfer of funds.”
When the largest GoFundMe account was created last weekend, it listed the deceased members of the Coleman family and asked for help supporting them. “Any donations will help in laying our nine loved ones to rest,” the fundraiser description read.
By Wednesday, the description had changed to read: “This page is to Support Tia Coleman.”
Ciphy confirmed that funds in that account would be sent to Tia Coleman.
“The funds raised will go directly to Tia to help her through this difficult time,” Ciphy said.
She said GoFundMe was working with the creators of the other two accounts to find the best person to send donations to. She said GoFundMe will release funds only to the person or group designated to receive them.
“This means the money is safely held until the Coleman family decide on a plan to withdraw the funds,” Ciphy said. “We will work closely with them on this process.”
Ride The Ducks, owned by Ripley Entertainment, announced earlier this week that it would cover costs of funeral services for the 17 victims. Three family members of the Colemans said told The Star they had no knowledge of the company covering some of their costs.
A spokesperson told The Star that the company had been in communication with a member of the Coleman family, but that the discussions were confidential. Family members of duck boat victims who are still in need of support should contact Carolyn McLean at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How to help
Three GoFundMe accounts were created to help the Coleman family of Indianapolis. According to relatives, the money will be used:
▪ For Tia Coleman: gofundme.com/branson-duck-boat-survivor
▪ For an educational trust for Donovan, son of Angela Coleman: gofundme.com/branson-mo-tragedy-coleman-family
▪ For the funeral of Horace, Belinda, Ervin, Angela and Maxwell Coleman: gofundme.com/coleman-family-boat-accident