Students Killed in Seattle Duck Tour Crash Identified

25 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘Wounds in our heart’: Seattle college mourns 4 students.

SEATTLE — Even before a duck boat crashed into a charter bus in Seattle, killing four international students, 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. SEATTLE — The so-called duck boat was ferrying tourists across a crowded Seattle bridge when, suddenly, the amphibious vehicle swerved into an oncoming charter bus carrying foreign exchange students on their way to an orientation event.

North Seattle College, where the students were to begin classes Monday, released the names of three of the victims, saying they came from Austria, China, Indonesia and Japan. The resulting crash killed four people, injured dozens of others and raised safety questions about the distinctive former military vehicles popular with tour groups across the country.

Students at the two-year college had a private memorial service before Seattle officials had a news conference there. “We didn’t have a chance to develop a long-term relationship with these students,” college President Warren Brown said. “But for someone to come from another country to learn here, to be excited about an opportunity to see the city, … it’s painful.” One student, Claudia Derschmidt, 49, of Austria, had come to Seattle about two weeks ago with her 15-year-old son, Brown said. A Chinese girl, whose name was not released because she was a minor, was 17; Privaudo Putradauto, 18, was from Indonesia; Mami Sato, 37, was from Japan.

One patient remained in critical condition Friday morning at Harborview Medical Center, where the most seriously injured were taken after the 11:15 a.m. The collision on the Aurora Bridge, which carries one of the city’s main north-south highways over the lake, left a tangled mess of twisted metal, shattered glass and blood, witnesses said.

But he said the NTSB was interested in duck boat safety because other such vehicles are operating in other cities. “We’ll study this incident in-depth,” NTSB spokesman Eric Weiss 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 before. Susan Gregg, a spokeswoman for Harborview and the University of Washington medical centers, released a statement early Friday that gave the conditions of some of them. Keith Holloway, an NTSB spokesman, said the agency does not have national statistics for accidents involving Duck boats, whose name is derived from the designation DUKW, six-wheeled amphibious vehicles used as U.S. military landing craft during World War II.

Thirteen people died in 1999 when an amphibious boat sank to the bottom of Lake Hamilton in Arkansas in an accident the NTSB blamed on inadequate maintenance. 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 computer while he was steering the barge. Three dozen people were on board the duck boat, as well as the driver, who is certified by the Coast Guard and a licensed commercial driver, company President Brian Tracey said.

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