NTSB: Duck Boat in Seattle Crash Didn’t Have Recommended Fix

28 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Fifth college student dies from injuries after duck boat crash in Seattle; feds say vehicle didn’t have recommended fix.

A Seattle duck boat that swerved wildly into an oncoming charter bus last week, killing five people and injuring dozens, did not have an axle repair that was recommended for at least some of the amphibious vehicles in 2013, the National Transportation Safety Board said Sunday. SEATTLE (AP) — A fifth international college student has died following last week’s crash of a charter bus and an amphibious tour vehicle, or duck boat, in Seattle. Ride the Ducks International, which refurbished the boat in 2005, issued a warning to its customers two years ago about potential axle failure and recommended a specific repair or increased monitoring, said NTSB member Earl Weener.

Witnesses described seeing the duck boat’s left front tire lock up before it veered into the bus on the Aurora Bridge, and federal investigators announced Saturday that they found the duck boat’s left front axle sheared off — though they said it wasn’t clear if the axle had broken before or after the collision. Four international college students died at the scene of the crash, and a fifth — identified as a 20-year-old woman — died Sunday, Harborview Medical Center said.

Weener also said investigators would determine what the drivers of the duck boat and the charter bus were doing for the three days before the crash. “Safety and security are always a concern,” said Cindy Brown of Boston Duck Tours. “When anything happens in our industry, we’re all acutely aware.” Brown said her operation had not changed any procedures, but the owners and safety team would evaluate the situation after the federal investigation is complete. The amphibious vehicle involved in the crash — known as Duck No. 6 — underwent regular annual examinations by a federally certified inspector, most recently in 2015 and 2014, and met federal standards, Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission spokeswoman Amanda Maxwell said.

The warning included specific instructions for inspecting the area where the shaft could fail, as well as instructions for the repair, which involved welding collars around the axle shaft, Weener said. 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. 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.

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