NTSB: Duck boat calls unanswered before collisionPHILADELPHIA (AP) — An idled tour boat and nearby vessels made repeated, unanswered calls to the tugboat guiding the massive barge that hit and sank the smaller craft in the Delaware River, killing two Hungarian students, according to a preliminary federal report released Friday.
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — An idled tour boat and nearby vessels made repeated, unanswered calls to the tugboat guiding the massive barge that hit and sank the smaller craft in the Delaware River, killing two Hungarian students, according to a preliminary federal report released Friday.
The NTSB found in the report that the stricken amphibious tour boat's radio calls to the approaching tug went unheeded in the moments before the collision July 7 just south of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, which links Philadelphia and New Jersey.
There were 35 passengers and two crew members aboard the boat operated by Ride the Ducks tours when it was hit. The barge plowed over the duck boat, sinking it and plunging passengers into the water, some of whom were pulled from the water by firefighters, a passing ferry boat and passers-by on shore. The two Hungarians drowned.
The duck boats are a popular way for tourists to see Philadelphia from both land and water but have not operated since the accident.
According to the report, drug and alcohol tests on the crews of both vessels were negative. The mate piloting the tugboat declined to answer investigators’ questions, citing his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. His lawyer, Frank DeSimone, said he advised his client to do so. The mate has not been identified.
The two killed — Dora Schwendtner, 16, and Szabolcs Prem, 20 — were touring the city as part of a church-sponsored exchange program. Their parents have since sued the city and the operators of both vessels.
NTSB preliminary reports are usually a factual summary of the information gathered to a certain point in an investigation. They don't include analysis of the information or theories on possible causes.