State suspends Ride the Ducks operations pending probe

28 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

NTSB investigators: Duck boat didn’t have axle fix.

The death toll in the Seattle crash of a Ride the Ducks vehicle rose to five yesterday when a 20-year-old woman succumbed to injuries she received when the tourist vessel veered into a charter bus. Washington state regulators have suspended the operations of a Seattle tour company after one of its amphibious vehicles was involved in a crash last week that killed five people and injured dozens.

Investigator said Saturday that the left front axle of the duck boat was sheared off, but they hadn’t determined if that damage happened before the collision or during it. A duck boat amphibious tour vehicle carrying about three dozen people and a tour bus with about 45 on board were travelling different directions across a Seattle bridge Thursday when witnesses say they saw the duck boat’s left tire “lock up” as it swerved into the bus. The UTC will meet Monday to address its authority to suspend company operations pending completion of those inspections and review”, said Governor Inslee. The National Transportation Safety Board said Sunday the boat did not have an axle repair that was recommended in 2013 by the company that refurbishes the vehicles. Jay Inslee is seeking to halt operations of Seattle’s duck boat fleet pending the outcome of an investigation by the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission.

Authorities have identified the others who were killed as: Runje Song, 17, of China; Privando Putradanto, 18, of Indonesia; Mami Sato, 36, of Japan; and Claudia Derschmidt, 49, of Austria. Jay Inslee and Seattle Mayor Ed Murray that the duck boats remain sidelined pending state scrutiny of the vehicles. “I believe that until we can be assured that each of these vehicles and drivers have been inspected, they should not be back on Seattle streets,” Inslee said in a statement. Since the sightseeing vessels are built on chassis manufactured in the 1940s, they are exempt from federal motor vehicle safety standards, Mongeluzzi said. The crash has put renewed focus on the safety of duck boats, which are circa-WWII military-style vehicles that give tourists a view of a city by both land and water. The AP noted that these vehicles are used for tours all over the world, in such cities as Philadelphia; Austin, Texas; Miami; Fort Lauderdale, Fla. and London.

In San Francisco, recent regulations have banned drivers from acting as the tour guides, requiring companies to have an additional employee who can fill that role, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Investigators determined that the vessel, built by the Army in 1944, was not designed for passenger service and as a result lacked the proper buoyancy to remain afloat. The amphibious vehicle involved in the crash underwent regular annual examinations by a federally certified inspector, most recently in 2015 and 2014, and met federal standards.

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