Duck boat involved in Seattle crash was last inspected 12 years ago, report says

26 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

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

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 — The National Transportation Safety Board’s investigation into the deadly crash of a duck boat and charter bus is the first time the agency has looked into a land crash of the amphibious vehicles critics say are too dangerous for city streets.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. 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.

Both were ejected from the vehicle. (Evan Bush / The Seattle Times) Update at 4:36 p.m.: Katie Moody, 30, a pharmacy technician and drug research assistant from Fremont, Calif. was visiting Seattle to celebrate her niece’s third birthday. Even before the crash, calls had emerged for greater oversight and even an outright ban on the military-style vehicles that allow tourists to see cities by road and water. “Duck boats are dangerous on the land and on the water. 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. They shouldn’t be allowed to be used,” Robert Mongeluzzi, a Philadelphia attorney, said Friday, renewing his call for a moratorium on their operation nationwide. 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

Seeing good people is just amazing,” she said, wiping tears from her eyes. “They thought it was very important for me to know my parents were OK.” Wearing a brace around her neck, Katie said it’s going to be a “slow healing process.” She suffered fractures to her collarbone and a bone in her neck, and a burst artery in the accident. The bus was carrying about 45 students and employees in the college’s popular international program, which draws people of various ages from around the world. Greg was released from the hospital Thursday, but said he still feels dazed. “Supposedly, I was interviewed yesterday by CNN and I don’t remember … you get blank spots,” he said. Update at 3:37 p.m.: The youngest victim killed in the crash has been identified by the King County Medical Examiner’s Office as Runjie Song, 17, of China.

Tracey said the captains are certified by the Coast Guard and licensed as commercial drivers, and they are required to take continuing education once a month. Witnesses to the accident, which also involved two passenger vehicles, reported seeing the northbound duck boat suddenly swerve with what may have been a wheel or tire problem. 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. A spokesman for the city’s Department of Transportation said Friday that an initial inspection had found that the bridge was not structurally damaged in Thursday’s accident. But the pall hanging over the college, a community college where about 10 percent of students are international and the median age is 29, is just beginning, school officials, students and staff members said.

If the UTC determines that there were any violations, or if either driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the companies will face financial penalties, Gill said. The UTC employs just five federally trained commercial-vehicle inspectors charged with conducting inspections of all motor carrier firms statewide, she said. Thursday had started happily enough, with two buses setting out on a beautiful fall morning for the college’s traditional get-acquainted-with-the-city tour of places like Pike Place Market.

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. In 2012, the UTC conducted a comprehensive safety inspection of Ride the Ducks’ fleet, including driver qualifications, employee drug and alcohol testing and vehicle maintenance records, issuing a satisfactory rating to the company, the agency said. The driver of the charter bus reported that the duck boat “careened” into them on the bridge, Richard Johnson, president of Bellair Charters, said Friday. The team includes experts who will examine mechanical conditions of vehicles, along with any potential human, safety mechanism and bridge-structural factors, Weener said. Weener, from the NTSB, said federal authorities’ goal is to prevent future accidents. “We’d like to find out what… the industry can do to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” he said Friday.

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. The company’s overall safety record in the last two years appears to be good, according to federal records. “Once the investigators arrive they’ll hit the ground running,” Weiss said. “They will be looking for evidence, they will try to examine the vehicles.” During a briefing Friday afternoon, NTSB officials said they would not speculate on the cause of the crash. 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.

From her hospital bed, where she was recovering from a broken collarbone, she broke into tears Friday as she recounted the accident. “I just remember it felt like we lost control, and I looked up and saw the bus headed toward us,” Moody said. “Hearing the impact, that was the scariest part.” The NTSB previously has investigated at least two multiple-fatality accidents involving Duck vehicles in other states, both of which occurred on water.

His driver wasn’t seriously hurt, but Johnson said he’s concerned with how he’s handling the accident emotionally. “We’ve spoken to the driver who was on the scene, our directors of safety who were on the scene,” Johnson said. “The pictures are reality. Elizabeth Van Inwegen cleared her schedule Friday morning to attend the meeting at the college, where she’s worked for the past two years as an admission-office assistant. They didn’t know whether their 18-year-old son was involved in the fatal crash until they woke up at 6 a.m. their time, saw the news and phoned him.

Xing, who arrived in Seattle on Sept. 16, wasn’t on the bus because he and two friends, also students from China, had turned down an invitation from a teacher to come along. “We didn’t get on the bus because we just wanted to go downtown by ourselves. We would have been in danger.” In the main courtyard of the campus, passers-by stopped by a table with candles to pen messages of support to the victims and their relatives on slips of paper. “Please write a supportive message to the people who lost a family member or friend in the tragic bus accident,” a sign on the table says. “Any kind words help.

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