Husband Of Pedestrian Crushed By Duck Boat In Center City Sues Firm, City

Nearly Two Months After A Ride The Ducks Boat Struck And Crushed His Wife At A Center City Intersection, A Texas Man Is Suing The Company And The City Of Philadelphia.

Daniel Karnicki, of Beaumont, Texas, filed the lawsuit yesterday, claiming that Liz Karnicki’s wrongful death was at the hands of Ride the Ducks. The lawsuit was filed on the fifth anniversary of another Ride the Ducks collision that killed two Hungarian tourists who were on board.

Karnicki’s attorney, Robert Mongeluzzi, said that the duck boat’s blind spots made it nearly impossible for the driver to see Liz Karnicki when she crossed the street, and that the driver was distracted because he also acted as a tour guide. Mongeluzzi claims that the company was aware of the blind spots and said the city should permanently take them out of service.

“The boats are as dangerous on land as they are on water,” Mongeluzzi said.

On the night of May 8, Liz Karnicki, 68, was following her husband across the intersection of 11th and Arch streets as they walked to the Hilton Garden Inn, where they were staying during a last-minute stop in Philadelphia. When the traffic light changed from red to green, the duck boat accelerated just as she crossed in front of it, causing the boat’s undercarriage to crush her head and body. Once Karnicki heard his wife scream, he turned and saw the boat run her over, killing her almost immediately.

“He saw the duck boat crush her to death right in front of his eyes,” Mongeluzzi said.

The lawsuit claims that Ride the Ducks, its parent company Herschend Family Entertainment and Amphibious Vehicle Manufacturing knew that the duck boats’ bow created blind spots but never upgraded the design. Mongeluzzi said the driver, a 72-year-old retired commercial-airline pilot, was also distracted because he “told jokes and pointed out landmarks” as he drove.

Ride the Ducks said in a statement that the driver was accompanied by a narrator and that the boats are inspected regularly. In addition, witnesses told police that Karnicki walked against the red light and that the driver was not at fault, according to the statement.

Mongeluzzi said that Karnicki couldn’t see the light because it was too far to the left of the crosswalk and was blocked by the boat. The lawsuit claims that the city was negligent in placing the traffic light out of view.

“It’s located at the stupidest place you can put it,” Mongeluzzi said. “A place where you can’t see it if there’s a large bus or a duck boat in front of you.”

Mark McDonald, a spokesman for Mayor Nutter, said he was aware of the lawsuit but could not comment on pending litigation.

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