‘No finer individuals’ Arkansas town mourns loss of father and son in duck boat tragedy

OSCEOLA, Ark. —A small Arkansas town mourns the loss of a father and son.

17 people including 6 families were on a duck boat in Missouri when the boat capsized Thursday.

Two of those victims are from Osceola, Arkansas.

"It's a devastation to this town," Osceola resident Crystal Thomas said.

53-year-old Steve Smith and 15-year-old Lance Smith are amongst the 17 people dead.

Mayor and close family-friend Dickie Kennemore praised the Smith men for their character.

"No finer individuals in Osceola but these two men and this family," Kennemore said.

He said he’s known this family for several years and knows them to be good people.

The Smith family is well known in Osceola. Many know them from working in the church and/or the school system.

Steve Smith was a retired teacher and a church deacon at Osceola Church of Christ.

"He was a very good-hearted man. You couldn't have asked for a better teacher. There are a few good teachers in this world and he was the best that you could ever ask for," Thomas said.

Thomas said Steve taught her children and they were devastated to hear what happened.

Steve’s  wife Pam Smith is also an educator.

As her husband, son and daughter rode on the duck boat she opted to stay on shore the day of the accident.

Osceola School District Superintendent Alfred Hogan spoke to Pam over the phone this week.

He said they shed tears together and shared prayer.

"It was just hard to talk to someone like that and she said it was just tough on her by electing not to get on the ride," Hogan said.

Hogan says their daughter Loren actually helped someone else when the boat capsized.

She suffered a concussion and is back at home now.

Mayor Kennemore told WREG Pam was also hospitalized after the accident, feeling the extent of everything that happened.

People in the community say they are praying for the family.

They describe Lance as a young man who was a bit shy but active in his youth group in church.

He even delivered his  first sermon last Sunday and was baptized last year.

The community also describes Steve as a friendly, welcoming and humble man.