Matthew R. Devlin, 35, of Catskill, New York, was sentenced Tuesday to one year and one day in prison for misconduct of a ship operator causing death, in relation to the “Duck boat” accident on the Delaware River here July 7, 2010.
In the accident, the barge, The Resource, which was towed by the towing vessel Caribbean Sea, piloted by defendant Devlin, ran over a boat operated by the tourism company Ride the Ducks International LLC. As a result, two passengers on the duck boat who were visiting from Hungary, Szabolcs Prem, 20, and Dora Schwendtner, 16, were killed.
The sentence was handed down by U.S. District Court Judge Legrome D. Davis. Devlin is to report to prison on Jan. 5, 2012. Devlin also surrendered his Coast Guard-issued license as a mate.
Devlin pleaded guilty to the charge on Aug. 1, 2011, admitting that for an extended period of time prior to the collision, he was distracted by his use of a cell phone and a laptop computer to attend to personal matters. He elected to pilot the Caribbean Sea from its lower wheelhouse, where he had significantly reduced visibility in comparison to the perspective from the upper wheelhouse; and did not maintain a proper lookout or comply with other essential rules of seamanship.
The criminal case was investigated by Special Agent Eric J. O’Hearn of the Coast Guard Investigative Service, supported by Marine Investigators of the United States Coast Guard and was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Robert A. Zauzmer.
“The resolution of this case was made possible through the cooperation of the DOJ and the U.S. Coast Guard,” said Cmdr. Jonathan Maiorine, preventions department chief for Coast Guard Sector Delaware Bay. “This joint effort has helped ensure there was accountability and increased safety in the wake of this tragedy.”