KANSAS CITY, MO (NOVEMBER 13, 2019) –Noted duck boat disaster lawyer Robert J. Mongeluzzi today urged the U.S. Coast Guard to “once and for all stop the senseless deaths” by immediately adopting and enforcing today’s recommendations by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) to make the amphibious vehicles safe, starting with the removal of their fixed canopies that trap and kill passengers.
His remarks followed the release of the NTSB’s report on the July 19, 2018 Branson, Missouri duck boat disaster that killed 17 passengers, many of whose loved ones are represented by Mr. Mongeluzzi’s law firm, Saltz, Mongeluzzi & Bendesky, P.C.
“While we commend the NTSB for its comprehensive post-accident investigation and life-saving recommendations,” said Mr. Mongeluzzi, “we demand that the Coast Guard finally makes passenger safety its highest priority and immediately do what it should have done 17 years ago, in 2002, when the NTSB made the same duck boat safety recommendations following the May 1,1999 Miss Majestic duck boat sinking near Hot Springs, Arkansas in which 13 passengers, including five children drowned. 17 years ago the NTSB recommended that duck boats be modified so they remain afloat while flooded or that they remove their death trap canopies. The Coast Guard and the duck boat industry ignored these vital safety recommendations and another 19 innocent victims died because of their failure to act. How many more must die before they will?”
Branson survivor-passenger Tia Coleman, of Indianapolis, whose husband and their three young children were killed when the boat sank, said today, “17 years ago the National Transportation Safety Board recommended that canopies be removed from Duck Boats and that their reserve buoyancy be improved so they wouldn’t sink. Neither the Duck Boat Industry, nor the Coast Guard, acted on these common sense safety recommendations. The duck boat and Coast Guard’s failure to act on the NTSB’s recommendations to remove death trap canopies and improve the buoyancy of these boats killed my family. I am publicly requesting the Commandant of the Coast Guard to meet with me to discuss these recommendations and work together to save lives.”
The Coast Guard must now act because the duck boat industry has, sadly, demonstrated that it has been more focused on profits than protecting its passengers. It has utterly failed to adopt the NTSB’s decades-old safety recommendations to make its boats stay afloat in flooded conditions and to remove the rigid, continuous canopies that cage and trap passengers and drag them to agonizing deaths by drowning. The industry has been warned about this hazard repeatedly and continues to subject its unknowing passengers to this deadly risk. Enough is enough.
Attorney Andrew R. Duffy
Jeffrey P. Goodman, another SMB partner and member of the maritime accident team of trial lawyers, said, “Today, the grieving families call on the Coast Guard and Congress, again to do what they should have done 17 years ago and ban these sinking coffins from our waters. Too many innocent loved ones have already been laid to rest because our government has failed to protect the people from these dangerous vessels.”
A copy today’s NTSB update can be viewed at www.ntsb.gov or @ntsbnewsroom.