The Philadelphia Personal Injury Law Blog

Stunning Video of 2010 Duckboat Crash; Trial Starts Monday

On the eve of trial, the attorneys for the parents of two plaintiffs who died in the horrific boat Duckboat crash in 2010 have released footage of the accident, reports NBC 10 Philadelphia. The crash happened when a Ride the Ducks boat, full of passengers, stalled in the Delaware River.

After being stranded for a short time, an immense tugboat, the Caribbean Sea, crushed the diminutive tour boat, with most of the passengers still on board. Amazingly, only two people died as a result of the crash, which the NTSB has labeled a warning of the “dangers of distraction.”

Now, on the eve of trial, there appears to be visual proof of some of the contributing factors to the crash. The video contains a still image of the deckhand for the smaller boat texting, minutes before the boat was slammed by a larger ship. It also shows that same deckhand diving into the water moments before impact, while the boat is still full of passengers. According to the news report, the passengers had less than a minute to put on their life preservers prior to the boat being crushed.

However, the proof is less than conclusive. The deckhand was texting, but it was supposedly six full minutes prior to the accident. He appears, in the video, to put his phone away afterward. It is also possible that he was seeking help for his stranded boat. However, it is odd that they waited to tell the passengers to put on their life vests until moments before impact.

There have also been questions about the design of the duck boat. According to the attorneys for the family, the canopies on the boats trap people if they are wearing life vests. The NTSB recommended that the design be altered years before the accident.

The operator of the larger tugboat is already in prison, as he was found to be texting prior to the accident as well. Reports state that he was using his cell phone to deal with a family emergency and had retreated to the wheelhouse for privacy, which left the small boat in the larger ship's blind spot. Being that he has already pled guilty to involuntary manslaughter and admitted to being at fault, it will be hard for his employer to escape liability, since employers are typically liable for their employees' negligence.

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