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Feds cite mechanical error in deadly 2015 ‘Ride the Ducks’ crash in Seattle

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A look at a crash involving a "Ride the Ducks" tour vehicle and a charter bus on Seattle's Aurora Bridge on Sept. 24, 2015. (KCPQ photo)

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board says an investigation into a deadly amphibious tour boat crash in Seattle found it was caused by a mechanical failure.

NTSB Chairman Christopher Hart said Tuesday the Ride the Ducks vehicle had a fractured left axle housing.

The amphibious passenger vehicle was traveling north over the Aurora Bridge on State Route 99 in Seattle when it crossed the center line into the southbound lanes.

Duck 6 hit a charter bus full of college students. Five people died and 69 people were injured in the Sept. 24, 2015, accident. Three other vehicles were damaged in the crash.

Hart said in his opening statement at a meeting of the agency that the chain of events leading to the crash began years before it happened.

He says there were missing layers of safety oversight in the way amphibious passenger vehicles were manufactured, operated and maintained.

A safety defect in the axle house of the model of the vehicle in the crash had been found, but a modification didn’t address the defect.

The board will make safety recommendations after hearing the full report.