Attorneys for the victims of Philadelphia’s deadly Duck boat accident released new, dramatic video of the crash. Their wrongful death case goes to trial in Federal court on Monday. Lawyers for the families of the two victims who drowned, say this new video shows the deckhand on the Duck boat, texting shortly before the accident.
WARNING: The video does show the moment of impact when a barge ran over the disabled Duck boat in the Delaware River.
Two students from Hungary died in the crash — Dora Schwendtner, 16 and Szabolcs Prem, 20.
The National Transportation and Safety Board found that cell phones played a major part in the disaster.
The tug boat pilot who was steering the barge was on his cell phone for a family emergency when the barge hit the Duck boat, which was stalled in the Delaware River.
Matthew Devlin pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and was sentenced to 366 days in jail.
In the minutes before the crash, Devlin repeatedly made and received calls on his cellphone, surfed the Internet for medical information and moved to a lower wheelhouse for more privacy — putting the stalled duck boat in his blind spot, according to a report by the National Transportation Safety Board.
According to the NTSB investigation, a photo taken six minutes before the collision showed the deckhand on the Duck boat using his cell phone to send a text message.
The crash sent all 37 people on the duck boat into the river, but Schwendtner and Szabolcs Prem did not resurface. The Hungarians were visiting the United States through a church exchange program.
The families of the victims hired Philadelphia’s Saltz, Mongeluzzi and Bendesky. They’re suing the owner of the tugboat, K-Sea Transportation Partners and Ride the Ducks International.
Attorneys for the families issued a pre-trial statement saying they plan to prove that the July 2010 crash “was not a freak unpredictable occurrence, but occurred because of multiple egregious failures of K-Sea and Ride the Ducks to properly train their employees and to have adequate policies and procedures in place.”
The trial is expected to last for weeks.
NBC10 spoke with a survivor of the tragedy who watched the video for the first time.
“You keep seeing that big barge coming at you,” said Paul Kratz of Phoenixville. “It’s really scary.”
Kratz was sitting in the back of the boat during the accident. Until seeing the video, Kratz said he didn’t realize the duck boat deckhand jumped into the water during the collision before any of the passengers.
“When it hit us, I went down on my knees, and then on my back and then just kind of rolled into the water,” said Kratz. “The only thing I could think of was to swim away from the canopy to get away.”
He also says the video reminded him no one was wearing an orange life vest during the accident.
“The passengers aren’t told to put there life preservers on until 45 seconds before the accident,” said Robert Mongeluzzi, an attorney for the victims’ families. “That decision really robbed them of any chance to put on their life preserver and robbed those children of their lives.”
“Tragedy, absolute tragedy,” said Kratz. “The poor parents have to deal with it.”
The parents of the Hungarian students will travel to Philadelphia this weekend.
NBC10 contacted the Ride the Ducks organization. They told us they don’t comment on pending litigation. The trial begins on Monday.