Critics say duck boats are too dangerous for city streets

26 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

12 years since Duck vehicle in fatal crash got state inspection.

SEATTLE (CBS / AP) — A family from Fremont is grateful to be alive after they were thrown from an amphibious tour vehicle that collided with a charter bus in Seattle.

The Ride the Ducks vehicle involved in Thursday’s deadly crash on the Aurora Bridge has not undergone a state inspection for at least 12 years, transportation regulators acknowledged Friday.SEATTLE: Investigators on Friday combed through the wreckage of two buses that crashed in Seattle, as authorities released the names of the four foreign students who died in the accident.SEATTLE — People with foreign language skills were, by necessity, among the first emergency workers to respond to a horrific bus accident on Thursday that killed four international college students and sent nearly 50 other people to hospitals.

Thirty-year-old Katie Moody, who broke her collarbone, cried as she told reporters from her hospital bed at Harborview Medical Center that her “faith in humanity” was restored by people rushing to their aid. Among the fatalities was a 49-year-old Austrian woman, Claudia Derschmidt, who had just arrived in the West Coast state of Washington with her 15-year-old son to pursue her studies at North Seattle College.

Some tours are complete with exuberant drivers who play loud music and quack through speakers. ‘‘These are military craft that were never designed to navigate narrow city streets,’’ said Steve Bulzomi, the attorney for a motorcyclist who was run over and dragged by a duck boat that came up behind him at a stoplight in Seattle in 2011. ‘‘This is a business model that requires the driver to be a driver, tour guide, and entertainer at the same time.’’ About 45 students and staff from North Seattle Community College were traveling Thursday to the iconic Pike Place Market and Safeco Field for orientation when the duck boat suddenly swerved into their oncoming bus, witnesses said. The other victims from Thursday’s crash were identified as 18-year-old Privaudo Putradauto of Indonesia, Mami Sato, 37, from Japan and a 17-year-old Chinese student whose name was not released because she is a minor. For a company this size, our inspector typically conducts inspections on five vehicles, which was what the 2012 inspection consisted of.” Information about the state’s last inspection on Duck No. 6 emerged Friday amid three separate investigations launched in the accident’s wake. Some witnesses have reported the Duck appeared to have a mechanical problem with a wheel right before it fishtailed, careened across the bridge’s centerline and slammed broadside into an oncoming Bellair Charters & Airporter bus.

NTSB board member Earl Weener said in a tweet that the aim was to understand “not just WHAT happened but WHY so we can recommend changes to prevent similar accidents”. – AFP KUALA LUMPUR: 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) says it is committed to continue providing responses to former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to help the latter remember its fact-based answers. “For example, Tun Mahathir previously claimed that RM42 billion was missing from 1MDB. Now, he claims that ‘over RM20 billion cannot be traced or accounted for’. “For Tun Mahathir’s benefit, a comprehensive breakdown of how 1MDB utilised its RM42 billion of debt – based on the company’s audited financial statements – can be found at,” it added. “In relation to 1MDB land, Tun Mahathir conveniently forgets that 1MDB is 100% owned by the Malaysian government and therefore, any land value increase directly and solely benefits the government. “Apart from now quoting a much lower land value of RM3,000 per square foot (vs RM7,000 per square foot in a previous allegation by him), Tun Mahathir forgets to acknowledge that 1MDB has committed RM3 billion on infrastructure development in TRX. “This equates to approximately RM1,500 of infrastructure expenditure per square foot, paid for by 1MDB, and subsequently recovered through land sales,” said 1MDB. It added that Dr Mahathir had also repeated his old claim that 1MDB transferred funds to the private accounts of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak. “As he will be well aware, this is despite the independent Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) clearly confirming on Aug 3, 2015 that the funds were from a private donor and not from 1MDB. “1MDB regrets that Tun Mahathir keeps forgetting the facts, not just from 1MDB but from independent and respected agencies such as the MACC,” said 1MDB. – Bernama

All company drivers are required to take continuing education classes, he said. ‘‘We take these issues very seriously.’’ Bulzomi said authorities should take action. ‘‘I would hope everybody would take a serious look at whether this is a real good idea for the streets of Seattle,’’ he said. But he said the safety board was interested in duck boat safety because other such vehicles are operating in other cities, including Boston. ‘‘We’ll study this incident in-depth,’’ Eric Weiss, a spokesman for the safety board, said. ‘‘Of course we look at things that will be of national significance, but we are investigating this accident.’’ The safety of the amphibious boats has been questioned.

Inspectors randomly select the vehicles to check, and a company must make all vehicles available for such reviews, which include mechanical inspections, checks on records, insurance and drivers’ credentials. The tug operator was sentenced to a year in prison after acknowledging the accident was caused largely by his continuous use of a cellphone and laptop while he was steering. The UTC employs just five federally trained commercial-vehicle inspectors charged with conducting inspections of all motor carrier firms statewide, she said. And so the sense of foreshortened potential — new beginnings and dreams that could not be realized — is part of the pain, people from the college said. The team includes experts who will examine mechanical conditions of vehicles, along with any potential human, safety mechanism and bridge-structural factors, Weener said.

Investigators are also asking witnesses who have photographs, video or other relevant information to call a Seattle police hotline at 206-233-5000, Weener said. Such NTSB probes — which can include an on-scene investigation for about a week, followed by months of analysis at NTSB headquarters — typically last about a year, Weener said. The NTSB previously has investigated at least two multiple-fatality accidents involving Duck vehicles in other states, both of which occurred on water. Bellair Charters, based in Ferndale, Whatcom County, was last inspected by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration in 2013 and received a satisfactory rating, according to the UTC.

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