Mandi Keller spent Thursday night frantically calling police stations and sheriff's offices in southwest Missouri.
Keller was home in Texas, but her 15-year-old daughter, Gillian, was among the 31 people aboard a Ride the Ducks amphibious tour vessel that capsized Thursday night on Table Rock Lake.
Officials say 17 people died.
Gillian survived without serious injuries.
"I feel fortunate," Keller said. "God spared my child and she is coming home alive and not in a body bag."
Keller said Gillian was visiting Branson with her father and his family. Now, everyone is ready to go home.
Keller said her daughter and ex-husband reported the vessel began to sink in the stormy conditions Thursday night, and the occupants were briefly trapped under the boat's canopy.
Eventually, one of the duck boat operators was able to release the canopy and people swam toward the surface, according to the account Keller received.
Keller said her ex-husband reported it took all his strength to swim to the surface since the sinking vessel was sucking people downward.
"My daughter said she thought she was dead," Keller said.
Keller said she was told people aboard the vessel were not wearing life jackets.
Keller said her daughter and ex-husband made it to the surface and then swam to a nearby restaurant where people helped them out of the water.
Keller said Friday she felt lucky her daughter was alive but heartbroken for all the families dealing with fatalities.
Video from witnesses shows the boat struggling as large waves swamped the vessel.
Stone County Sheriff Doug Rader said the boat is believed to have sunk in 40 feet of water, rolled down in the lake, and landed on its wheels in 80-feet deep lake water.
Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board will be working to determine exactly what happened.
Jim Pulley, owner of Sea Tow Table Rock Lake, said the storm hit the lake with 80 mph winds that kicked up waves five feet high.
Follow Harrison Keegan on Twitter: @HKeeganNL