NTSB: Mechanical error and maintenance issues to blame for deadly Ride the Ducks crash
SEATTLE — It was the crash that changed the way we look at the Ride the Ducks tour and the Aurora Bridge. On Tuesday, a video was released that shows the deadly moment of impact.
A National Transportation Safety Board hearing is also revealing new answers into what may have caused the deadly crash. The NTSB says mechanical error and maintenance issues are what likely caused the crash that killed five people and injured 69, in September of last year.
For the first time, video of that duck boat veering into the path of a charter bus was released. It was taken from another bus traveling over the Highway 99 Aurora Bridge at the time of the crash.
The duck boat appears on the left, where you can see it suddenly cross the center line and collide with a bus, full of college students, and a pickup truck.
NTSB investigators say Ride the Ducks Seattle had a copy of an urgent service bulletin from 2013, warning about problems with the axle housing on some vehicles, but the problem wasn't properly fixed and a broken axle later caused the driver to lose control before this crash.
The NTSB said the chain of events leading to the crash started years before it happened, pointing to missing safety oversight in the way these vehicles were manufactured, operated and maintained.
“I am concerned that of the 74 ride the ducks international service bulletins, Ride the Ducks Seattle did not accomplish 80 percent of them,” said Honorable Robert Sumwalt, a member of the NTSB.
Another problem the investigators found is a lack of seatbelts. The board issued 10 new safety recommendations, including requiring seatbelts when the ducks are on the road.
Ride the Ducks Seattle released this statement saying it has cooperated with the NTSB and helped with this investigation in every way possible. The company defended itself by noting "the service bulletins issued by RTDI were often problematic, citing issues that had previously corrected or offering changes that had not been designed or reviewed by engineers or appropriate experts."
The statement goes onto say:
"Ride the Ducks Seattle has voluntarily taken many of the steps the NTSB discussed today, and the company welcomes working to refine and implement the additional safety enhancements discussed in the hearing."