Who's Liable In Philly Duck Boat Crash?


Fingers are pointing in many directions right now as to who did what and when. What failed? Who is to blame?

Robert J. Mongeluzzi

Joining the Fox 29 News at 10 Thursday night to lend insight on the land versus those on the water was personal injury lawyer Robert Mongeluzzi, who represented one of the victims in the Pier 34 collapse 10 years ago.

"When you're on a river, it's no different than if you're on a highway in a car," Mongeluzzi said. "So, what happened here? The duck boat lost power, it's out on the highway, and your pictures that you've shown show that they get run down, plowed over."

He continued, "When you're in a barge and a tug boat, and there's a disabled vessel on the water that cannot move and fend for itself, you have to get out of their way, because they have no ability to fend for themselves."

Maritime regulations say you have to be able to see ahead in time to be able to see a hazard and stop, Mongeluzzi said.

Using photographs of the vessels, the attorney made graphics to illustrate his point. One showed the tug positioned on the back left corner of the barge.

"That's OK if you say, 'Hey, we need to do that operationally. But if you're going to do that and you give up your vision, then you need to take care of that," Mongeluzzi said. "The easiest way to take care of that is to put someone up on the bow of the barge with a walkie-talkie in constant communications so, if you're on the back corner, you still have your eyes."

Asked if they could have seen the duck boat, Mongeluzzi said, "There's no way that they saw it."

Showing a graphic that has the tug boat only having visibility about two-thirds of the way around, Mongeluzzi said, "That's why they didn't see it, because it was in a blind spot."

Shouldn't there have been radio communication between the tug and barge and the duck boat?

"There have been some reports that there was a mayday call that was heard, and in fact some of the Navy Seals said they heard a mayday call before the accident, so I think that's one of the few facts that we don't know," the maritime attorney said.

"But a lot of the facts we do know," he continued. "We know that the duck boat was dead in the water. It was, ironically, a sitting duck. We know that KC didn't run it over intentionally and that, even though they were supposed to see - in fact they didn't see. Their corporate logo is 'safe and sound,' that's their tagline. I don't think they were safe and sound."

Is it premature to blame one side or the other in this incident at this stage of the investigation? Mongeluzzi said it's not given what's already known.


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Robert J. Mongeluzzi

Office: 215-575-2989