Victims Of Philly Duck Boat Crash Settle Suit For $17M

The families of the two Hungarian tourists killed when a barge crashed into the duck boat they were riding in will split $15 million from a settlement with the companies that owned the vessels, The Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

“For the families, no amount can replace their priceless only children,” said their lawyer, Robert Mongeluzzi.

Ride the Ducks, which operates the touring vehicles, and K-Sea Transportation Partners, which owned the tug that pushed a 250-foot barge into the duck boat in July 2010, also will pay $2 million to be split among the 18 duck boat passengers who survived, the Inquirer repots.

Szabolcs Prem, 20, and Dora Schwendtner, 16, who were visiting Philadelpia, died in the crash on the Delaware River. The Inquirer said their parents attended the first two days of the trial, which started Monday, but returned to Hungary on Wednesday and were not available for comment.Face of Man

“It was a painful experience for them to be here during this trial to listen to the eyewitnesses describe the horror inside the duck boat that day,” Mongeluzzi said.

Dora’s parents, Aniko Takacs and Peter Schwendtner, were heartened to see video of the accident, made public for the first time during the trial, which seemed to show their daughter throwing a life jacket to someone in the water.

The Inquirer explains what happened:

In their opening arguments, lawyers for both companies tried to pin blame on Matt Devlin, who was piloting the tug pushing a 250-foot barge on the Delaware near Penn’s Landing.

At 12:50 p.m. on the day of the accident, Devlin’s wife called him with news that their son Jacob, then 5, had been deprived of oxygen for eight minutes while undergoing corrective eye surgery.

Devlin panicked, researched the problem on a laptop, and made multiple calls on his cellphone to relatives. He also turned down the volume of the tug’s marine emergency radio, causing him to miss warnings of the impending crash.

Mongeluzzi, however, argued that Devlin alone was not responsible.

He said K-Sea did little to enforce safety rules and looked the other way despite evidence of rampant cellphone use among employees who were supposed to be keeping watch. He also claimed Ride the Ducks had lax safety practices, not ensuring, for example, that it had a working air horn to warn other boats of a problem on the day of the accident.

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