Duck Boat Radio Call Unanswered By Tug Crew

Philadelphia duck boat memorial

A student from Hungary throws a wreath into the Delaware River following a memorial service for two fellow students killed when a barge struck a disabled sightseeing boat. TOM MIHALEK/AP hide caption

itoggle caption TOM MIHALEK/AP

After it ran into engine trouble last week in the Delaware River, the Philadelphia sightseeing duck with 37 people aboard dropped anchor and attempted to radio the crew on an oncoming tug boat pushing a barge. But the tug's crew never responded.

The resulting collision dumped everyone on the amphibious boat into 55 feet of water and killed two young Hungarian exchange students, a 16-year old girl and 20-year old man.

According to the National Transportation Safety Board, people on other marine craft in the river heard the radio transmissions from the stalled duck boat.

The NTSB also said its investigators have interviewed three members of the tug's five-person crew which included the captain, the mate, an engineer, and two deck hands.

The mate, who would normally take the wheel when the captain left the wheelhouse, declined to talk with investigators, asserting his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, the NTSB said. Another crew member, a deck hand, was sleeping at the time of the accident.

The details are in a press release issued Monday by the NTSB. An excerpt:

Investigators are continuing to examine and document the structural damage of both vessels and will attempt to determine the nature of the mechanical problem that affected the DUKW 34 before the accident. Investigators have collected photographs and video that may provide further information regarding the accident sequence and will be working to develop a chronology of events leading up to the accident. The Caribbean Sea's GPS and electronic chart navigation devices were removed from the vessel and taken to NTSB Headquarters for analysis.

The NTSB is coordinating and working closely with the Coast Guard during this investigation. The NTSB also acknowledges the continued support and cooperation of the other parties involved, including Ride the Ducks of Philadelphia and K-Sea Transportation.

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