Federal regulator assigns blame for 2015 Seattle duck boat crash

The National Transportation Safety Board found that the tragic duck boat crash in 2015 in Seattle, Washington, was caused by improper maintenance and mechanical failure. Five people died in the crash and 69 people were injured. The NTSB also blamed loopholes in federal oversight for the accident, and further noted that passengers lacked sufficient protection like seatbelts and that the seats they sat on were severely deformed, all of which caused the crash to be more severe than it should have been.

The accident happened as the amphibious duck boat, a vehicle manufactured by Ride the Ducks International, was crossing Aurora Bridge on Highway 99, traveling at approximately 40 mph. That's when the axle of the vehicle broke and the duck boat driver lost control of the vehicle. Next, the duck boat went across the centerline and collided with another bus that was carrying international students from North Seattle College. Five of the students were killed.

Although duck boats make for a popular tourist attraction in many cities, the vehicles do not have a lot of regulatory oversight on highways and roads. Furthermore, the NTSB said in its ruling that Ride the Ducks International failed to register itself as a vehicle manufacturer with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Had it registered with the NHTSA, better oversight would have been given over the safety of the vehicle.

With fault being laid upon both the duck boat tour company for failing to maintain its vehicle, and fault being laid on the duck boat manufacturer, those who were injured in the devastating crash in 2015, and family members who died, may be able to seek personal injury and/or wrongful death damages in court. Although no amount of litigation can erase the pain of a serious truck accident, victims may at least be able to obtain money to pay for medical care, end of life expenses, pain and suffering and other damages.

Source: CBS, "NTSB finds probable cause of deadly Seattle duck boat crash," Nov. 15, 2016

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