Citing Serious Safety Flaws, Counsel for Victims in July 7 Duck Boat Accident Urge Moratorium on Service of Potential ‘Deathtraps’
PHILADELPHIA, July 30 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Duck boats in the Ride the Ducks Philadelphia fleet do not have sufficient reserve buoyancy to remain afloat in the event of flooding and have canopies which are well known to cage passengers attempting to escape. As a result, attorneys for Dora Schwendtner and Szabolcs Prem and their families are urging the City of Philadelphia and the U.S. Coast Guard to immediately impose a moratorium on all duck boat service on the Delaware River. Dora and Szabolcs were passengers on Duck Boat 34, which was equipped with a canopy, when they drowned on July 7, 2010, after it capsized, according to Holly Ostrov Ronai, Esq. and Robert J. Mongeluzzi, Esq.
The attorneys say that the authorities, in weighing a decision to permit service resumption, must focus on the April 2, 2002 National Transportation Board (NTSB) report on the May 1, 1999 sinking of the Miss Majestic Duck Boat – also fitted with a canopy similar to that on Duck Boat 34 – on Lake Hamilton, Arkansas in which 13 passengers drowned. The duck boats, said the NTSB report, “Pose unique and unresolved safety risks to the public, but that the vehicles could be made safe by installing safety features that would prevent them from sinking when flooded.” Specifically, it said that “the natural buoyancy of passengers’ bodies forced them into the overhead canopy, which acted like a net to entrap them and prevent their vertical escape”, essentially caging them.
The NTSB report concluded that “canopies present major safety risks…[especially since]…this unique vehicle is often promoted to and used by school groups. It added, “On amphibious passenger vehicles that cannot remain afloat when flooded, canopies represent an unacceptable risk to passenger safety.” It recommended that the Duck Boat industry “without delay, alter your amphibious vessels to provide reserve buoyancy… so that they will remain afloat and upright in the event of flooding even when carrying a full complement of passengers and crew.”
“The industry clearly learned nothing from the 1999 tragedy and no one should assume it will learn from the 2010 catastrophe,” said the attorneys. The lawyers, in the process of preparing a civil action in the aftermath of the accident, say the Philadelphia Duck Boats are even more hazardous to passengers because their route on the Delaware River takes them into an active commercial shipping channel frequented by tug boats, barges, tankers and other vessels approaching or exceeding 300 feet in length.
SOURCE Ronai and Ronai, LLP