VIDEO: Duck boat trial ends with settlement
Posted on 10 May 2012
After nearly two years of litigation, the trial for a fatal duck boat accident ended with a $15 million settlement just three days into the emotional testimony.
The families of two Hungarian tourists killed in a July 2010 accident between a tug-and-barge and a duck boat on the Delaware River in Philadelphia will receive the settlement from the companies that own the vessels, according to a Philadelphia Inquirer report.
Ride the Ducks, which operates the amphibious tour vessels, and K-Sea Transportation Partners, which owns the tug that was pushing the barge, also will pay $2 million to be split among 18 surviving duck-boat passengers, according to the report.
Just days before the trial began, attorneys for the parents of the deceased — who were 20 and 16 years old — released a video of the crash that’s more close-up and graphic than video made public immediately after the accident. The second video was part of the official record compiled by the National Transportation Safety Board in its investigation.
Click play to watch footage of the crash.
In their opening arguments, lawyers for both companies tried to pin blame on Matt Devlin, who was piloting the tug. Testimony revealed that 90 minutes before the crash, Devlin's wife called him with news that their 5-year-old son had been deprived of oxygen for eight minutes during corrective eye surgery.
Devlin panicked, researched the problem on a laptop and made multiple cell phone calls to relatives. He also turned down the volume of the tug's radio, which caused him to miss warnings of the looming collision, and moved to the lower wheelhouse, which hindered his visibility, according to the Inquirer story.
Devlin is serving a one-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to a federal criminal misconduct charge that is the maritime equivalent of involuntary manslaughter. His son reportedly recovered.
The prosecuting attorney also blamed K-Sea for not enforcing safety rules, such as cell phone use among employees keeping watch, and Ride the Ducks for lax safety practices and not ensuring that it had a working air horn on the day of the accident.
Click here for the full Philadelphia Inquirer report.