Another Death from Seattle Duck Boat Crash as NTSB Reveals Vehicle Lacked Recommended Repair
Photo courtesy of Thinkstock
A fifth international student has died from injuries received when an amphibious sightseeing duck boat crashed into a charter bus on a Seattle bridge Thursday, the Associated Press reported.
More than 50 people were hospitalized by the collision, caused when the duck boat swerved into the oncoming lane and into the bus, which was carrying about 45 students and staff from North Seattle College. Thirteen people are still recovering at Harborview Medical Center Sunday, with four in intensive care listed in serious condition.
This latest tragic news comes the same day as an announcement by the National Transportation Safety Board revealing that this particular duck boat did not undergo a recommended axle repair, according to the AP.
Ride the Ducks International — which refurbished the 70-year-old Army surplus craft in 2005 — said to investigators that the company had sent out a warning to customers in 2013 about potential axle failure and recommended a specific repair or increased monitoring, NTSB member Earl Weener told a news conference, the AP said.
"This particular duck had not had the fix," Weener pointed out to the press. Also, the NTSB member said it was unclear if Ride the Ducks of Seattle had received the warning in the first place. "We're going to be following that," he commented, according to the AP.
The duck boat’s left front tire locked up before careening into the bus, according to witness accounts, and federal investigators announced Saturday that the left front axle had sheared off, but it wasn’t clear whether this had occurred before or after the collision, the AP said.
A potentially deadly duck boat accident due to axle issues isn’t a threat isolated to Seattle. 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.
The NTSB, still at the beginning of what will be a yearlong investigation, did not have many details about the axle warning issued by Ride the Ducks International.
Some of the unanswered questions presented by Weener, according to the AP: how the company discovered the issue that caused it to send out a warning; whether the fault is a concern for all duck boats or just the ones the company refurbished; and how many of the 100 duck boats in service nationally have the repair.
As the NTSB arrives at more answers, the Associated Press has announced that Washington Gov. 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.
More by Michael Isenbek
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