One of the biggest tragedies of a Duck Boat accident last week, in which 17 people died, is that all signs point to the fact that it could have likely been prevented all together.
Last week, a duck boat with 31 people on board – all tourists – capsized while out on Missouri’s Table Rock Lake during a massive thunderstorm with high winds. When swells crashed against the boat the passengers were told to stay seated. The crew told passengers that they were going into the water first before the land part of the tour due to an incoming storm. However, it remains unclear as to why the boat even ventured into the water, to begin with. The area had been under a thunderstorm warning for hours, and a severe thunderstorm warning for over 30 minutes before the boat sank. The company says that it monitors weather. The victims ranged in age from 1 to 76.
Nobody Was Wearing a Life Jacket
Although there were life jackets on board, the passengers were allegedly instructed that they would not need them. Many got stuck under the boat’s canopy causing them to drown. Statistics from the U.S. Coast Guard have shown that about 83% of drowning victims who were boating in the U.S. were not wearing a life jacket.
A History of Tragedy
This is sadly not the first time that the amphibious ‘Ride the Duck’ vehicles have been found to be less than safe. On more than one occasion the company breached its duty to keep passengers safe:
- In May 1999 thirteen people were killed on Lake Hamilton when the “Miss Majestic” sank. In July 2010, two Hungarian students visiting the United States were killed when a barge being pushed by a tugboat struck a duck boat that had been stranded in the middle of the Delaware River after experiencing an engine fire.
- Another accident occurred in May 2015 when a woman was fatally run over while crossing a street against a red light while looking at her electronic tablet. Although she contributed to the accident that claimed her life, and the operator of the vehicle had a green light, the driver was unable to see the victim due to the fact that duck boat drivers sit high up and about ten feet from the front of the boat. The victim’s family sued the boat operator and manufacturer, citing the vehicle’s blind spots and the operator’s distracted driving. It wasn’t settled until 2017, under undisclosed terms.
In October 2016, the company announced that it was indefinitely halting operations in Philadelphia due, in part, to a 330% increase in insurance.
The attorney who represented all three Philadelphia victims has been very vocal in his opposition of the vehicles due to inherent danger. “The ducks are dangerous. They are inappropriate for city streets, they’re a danger on the land and on the water, and I’m glad to see them go.” With such a tragic history of repeated accidents with fatalities, it wouldn’t be too surprising to see the company close for good.
Has a Wrongful Death Lawsuit Been Filed?
A wrongful death lawsuit was filed by personal injury attorney, Robert Mongeluzzi, on Sunday, July 29. The family members of two victims are looking to recover $100 million. Family members of other victims are expected to join the lawsuit as well.
Posted in: Wrongful Death