PHILADELPHIA – May 9, 2012 (WPVI) — A settlement has been reached in the civil trial concerning the fatal duck boat accident on the Delaware River.
The families of 20-year-old Szabolcs Prem and 16-year-old Dora Schwendtner will split $15-million. It is up to the families on how they will split the money.
The other victims involved in the July 2010 tragedy will split $2-million amongst themselves. .
Yesterday, the judge presiding over the civil trial halted the trial and ordered both parties involved to try and reach a settlement.
The families of Prem and Schwendtner had filed wrongful death lawsuits against K-Sea Transportation of East Brunswick, N.J., which operated a tugboat guiding a barge upriver; Ride the Ducks of Norcross, Ga., which operated the tour boat that was hit by the barge; the city of Philadelphia, which owned the barge; and others.
That barge slammed into the sightseeing boat from Ride the Ducks dumping the passengers into the water. Prem and Schwendter, Hungarian students who were part of a group visiting the U.S. through a church exchange program, drowned.
At the start of the trial, video was played showing Dora Schwendtner throwing her life vest to a deckhand moments before impact.
That deckhand, Kyle Burkhart, dived overboard seconds before the collision that sent more than 30 passengers into the water.
Before testimony ended yesterday, one of the survivors of the fatal duck boat collision testified about what happened at the moment of impact.
Kevin Grace of Illinois was a passenger on the duck boat on July 7th, 2010.
In testimony this morning, he described what happened onboard the moment the doomed vessel was pushed in the dark Delaware River by an unmanned barge.
“The initial impact came with loud screams and cries from the rest of the crew, people on the boat,” Grace said.
As water was rushing up the aisle of the duck boat, Grace described trying to get a life jacket on his daughter.
“The metal is screeching and the boat is twisting and turning&sheer chaos, sheer panic, just the most horrific thing I could ever imagine happening,” Grace recalled.
This trial was slated to take longer than a month.