SEATTLE — The National Transportation Safety Board on Monday released new details into its investigation into a fatal crash between a tour bus and a Ride the Ducks amphibious vehicle in fall 2015 that killed 5 people.
The release of new documents reveals for the first time the perspective from the drivers involved in the crash. The drivers were both interviewed and their conversations were transcribed in the report. Both of them described to investigators a duck vehicle careening out of control before impact.
It has been more than a year since a Ride the Ducks Seattle vehicle careened into a charter bus, killing five and injuring scores more on the Aurora Bridge. Since then, federal agents have been poring over documents and interviewing witnesses to piece together the facts of the crash.
On Monday, investigators released the full docket of information, including a series of images taken from a camera onboard the charter bus that captured the scene less than half-a-second before impact.
Initially, investigators pointed to the Ride the Ducks front axle as having sheared off just prior to the crash.
Also included in the release are transcripts of interviews between investigators and the drivers of the duck vehicle and charter bus driver.
The duck’s driver told investigators, “The duck suddenly went wham and took a hard veer to the left. I hit the brakes.”
“I was just a passenger and coming down I see the bus coming. There's nothing I can do. I'm already standing on the brakes and in the meantime I'm still fighting the steering wheel and it's not moving on me,” he said.
The tour bus driver also shared his perspective with investigators, telling NTSB officials, “It happened so, it happened so quick, there wasn't a whole lot I could really do.”
“The whole thing is odd to me,” he said. “How often does a duck break.”
In 2013, Ride the Ducks Seattle’s parent company, Ride the Ducks International, sent out service bulletins recommending safety modifications for several of the boats’ front axles. But NTSB investigators said they did not find any evidence the repairs had been made.
Ride the Ducks Seattle’s attorney shared a statement with Q13 News:
“The NTSB has done a very thorough job assembling the facts surrounding the case. We are in the process of reviewing. It is important to note that this is simply a release of the information so far – the NTSB has not made any finding or determination. Ride the Ducks Seattle has worked with the agency, providing them with their complete cooperation in its investigation, and we will continue to do so as the NTSB makes its final report,” said attorney Patricia Buchanan.