PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The National Transportation Safety Board today opened up to the public its docket of information related to last summer’s fatal duck boat accident on the Delaware River.
Read the NTSB’s “Operation/Human Factors” Findings (pdf, 31 pages)
One document reveals that the tugboat pilot in the crash was consumed by a family emergency and on his cell phone when the collision happened.
The National Transportation Safety Board report says the first mate told a tugboat company lawyer he had learned that day of a life-threatening medical emergency involving his young son.
The 4,400-page report released today also says the mate did not assign a lookout on the long barge being pushed by the tug.
The barge struck a disabled tourist boat, killing two Hungarian students and plunging 35 other people aboard into the Delaware River on July 7th (see previous stories).
Chris Herschend (right), president of the “Ride the Ducks” company, told KYW Newsradio today that if you look at the documents you will see that the deckhand was on his personal cell phone, making 13 calls to five different numbers and receiving six incoming calls between noon and 2:35 PM, when the crash happened.
The personal cell phone use is against the policy of not only the Coast Guard but of the tug boat company.
The NTSB’s final report comes later (see related story), along with the official cause of the accident. However, the amphibious tour boats could be back on the river sooner than that.
Even before the NTSB’s final report with new safety recommendations is issued, the US Coast Guard has given the company that operates the duck boats a preliminary okay to return to the Delaware.
Final details have yet to be worked out, according to the city’s managing director, Rich Negrin.
Todd Quinones reports…
“They got preliminary Coast Guard approval and are working right now with us, cooperatively, with the city and the Coast Guard combined, to talk about what kind of plan would make sense on the Delaware,” Negrin said.
Negrin says he expects the plan would include technological improvements to the duck boats, some new redundancies to safety systems, and some additional training for personnel.
Service will not resume until all parties are on board with those changes.
Reported by Mike Dunn; Mike DeNardo, KYW Newsradio