Duck Boats Will Not Operate On July 7 Crash Anniversary

The duck boats will not operate July 7, the one-year anniversary of the crash on the Delaware River that killed two Hungarian tourists.

Chris Herschend, president of Ride the Ducks, said his company would shut down the amphibious vehicles for the day out of respect for the two victims, Dora Schwendtner, 16 and Szabolcs Prem, 20.

“Our prayers continue to be with all of those involved in this horrible tragedy, especially the families of Dora Schwendtner and Szabolcs Prem,” Herschend said. “Our closure is intended to honor the people onboard and the first responders who helped that day. It is also a reminder to our team of what we learned, and our ongoing commitment to assure nothing like this ever happens again.”

On July 7, 2010, a barge pushed by a tug crashed into a duck boat, sending 35 passengers and two crew members overboard and killing Schwendtner and Prem.

In a report issued last Tuesday, the National Transportation Safety Board blamed the accident mostly on the first mate on the tug, who used his cell-phone repeatedly in the hours before the collision because he was dealing with a family emergency.

A deckhand on the duck also was distracted because he was texting on his cellphone in the minutes before the accident, the NTSB said.

The NTSB cited the accident as an example of the increasing number of tragedies caused by using cell phones and other equipment while operating vehicles.

Bob Mongeluzzi, a lawyer representing the families of the victims, called the decision “public relations spin” and said he is still waiting for Ride the Ducks officials to apologize for their role in the accident.

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