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NTSB Reveals New Details Of Its Probe Into Fatal Duck Boat Crash On Delaware River

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)

Link to Additional NTSB Documents and Photos

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).

herschend chris ducks pres denardo side NTSB Reveals New Details Of Its Probe Into Fatal Duck Boat Crash On Delaware River

("Ride the Ducks" president Chris Herschend, who hopes to resume operations soon in Philadelphia. Photo by Mike DeNardo)

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.

Complete Coverage of Philadelphia Duck Boat Tragedy from CBS Philly

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

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One Comment

  1. Juan Hernandez says:

    For those who are ignorant on the rules shouldn’t comment. The mate on watch was in the wrong. He/She is in charge of the navigational watch and should have been more been more aware of what he/she was doing. In this particular case he should not have been on his phone trying to navigate in a busy water way. He violated US Coast Guard rules and his own company rules. Rules are in place for a reason. Should the rules that were put in place been followed non of this would have happened, there for there shouldn’t be any rule changes so long as you follow rule that were already put into place.

  2. JustinCase says:

    First Mate should have been given the day off. This guy clearly had too many balls in the air.

  3. Stephanie Patterson says:

    The Delaware is largely a commercial shipping area. And as long as shipping companies outsource and relinquish control to other entities, pleasure craft as ill-equipped as the Duck Boats have NO place in that area. Sorry. But after that tragic and senseless accident, “NO DUCKS ALLOWED.”

  4. grumpy says:

    This unfortunate accident happened because of the barge/tug boat running too close to the shore line. I’m glad that someone finally figured this out.

Comments are closed.

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