PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Nearly a year after the deadly collision involving a barge and a tour boat along the Delaware River near Penn’s Landing, the National Transportation and Safety Board has issued findings determining probable cause and releasing safety recommendations (see previous stories).

Deborah Hersman, the chair of the NTSB, pointed out one of the investigating panel’s most significant findings: that the first mate on the tug that was pushing the barge made 15 outgoing calls, took six incoming calls, and performed Internet searches on his laptop computer just before the fatal crash.

The NTSB faults the tug boat operator for allegedly not having an appropriate look out and for operating the vessel while using his cell phone and laptop.

ntsb hersman side NTSB Issues Final Report In Deadly Duck Boat Crash On Delaware RiverHersman (right) says the accident that killed two visiting tourists from Hungary is just one example of the deadliness of distraction.

“Calling, texting or accessing the internet are distractions. Today’s electronic age has made people accustomed to being connected 24/7,” said Chairwoman of the National Transportation Safety Board Deborah Hersman. “We must find a way to change the culture of distraction that we see across transportation because frankly it is just going to get worse in the coming years.”

The five-member safety board voted to adopt the findings, probable cause, and safety recommendations from the final report which was presented by NTSB investigators today.

The NTSB recommends the US Coast Guard establish a system that polices and enforces those operating vessels so they do not use their wireless devices while on duty.

They also recommend the “Ride The Ducks” company review existing safety and emergency procedures with employees.

The NTSB says one factor contributing to the disaster was “Ride The Ducks” maintenance personnel who allegedly did not secure a pressure cap on DUKW 34, the official designation of the duck boat.

The NTSB also noted that the master of the amphibious craft allegedly did not properly anchor the vessel.

Lawyer for Duck Boat Accident Victims Says NTSB Report Bolster His Lawsuit

The “duck boat,” an amphibious vehicle whose design goes back to World War II, was anchored in the Delaware with dozens of tourists aboard after suffering a mechanical problem.  It was rammed and sunk by the barge, which was ferrying sewage for the City of Philadelphia (see previous story)

VIEW: Summary Of NTSB Report


Reported by John McDevitt, KYW Newsradio 1060; Ben Simmoneau, CBS 3

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