‘Duck Boat’ Axle of Interest to Probers of Deadly Seattle Crash

27 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Axle from duck boat in deadly Seattle crash ‘sheared off,’ Feds say.

The Ride the Ducks vehicle involved in Thursday’s deadly bridge crash had its left front axle “sheared off,” and the inside of the wheel well was covered with spatters of fluid, federal investigators have found. Students from Japan, China, Indonesia and Austria were identified as the four people killed in a collision between a bus and a tourist vehicle the previous day in Seattle, according to an announcement from the victims’ school.

In a news conference Saturday evening, National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) member Earl Weener said investigators haven’t determined what caused the axle to break or concluded that it was a cause of the crash. Witnesses have said they saw the duck boat’s left tire “lock up” Thursday as it swerved into a charter bus carrying international students over a bridge. North Seattle College, which chartered the bus, said the victims were Mami Sato, a 36-year-old woman from Japan, Privando Putradanto, an 18-year-old man from Indonesia, Claudia Derschmidt, a 49-year-old woman from Austria, and a Chinese national whose name was withheld as a minor.

The Japanese Consulate in Seattle confirmed the information about Sato and said four other Japanese were being treated at hospitals but their conditions were not life-threatening. Brown said her operation hasn’t changed any procedures, but the owners and safety team would evaluate the situation after the federal investigation is complete.

The NTSB has previously investigated at least two multiple-fatality accidents involving Duck vehicles in other states, both of which occurred on water. Barb Graff, Seattle’s director of the Office Emergency Management, said a private location has been established for families of the deceased and injured, where city, county and Red Cross workers are offering assistance and mental health counseling. Meanwhile, the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC), which regulates commercial motor carriers statewide, inspected the Duck vehicle 12 years ago. Several hotels in Seattle are making rooms available to the families free of charge, Graff said, and Delta and Alaska airlines are helping with flights.

Officials said the company is also required to conduct its own, federally certified annual inspections on each vehicle, and the UTC said records show the company has met that standard.

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