Survivors and families of victims are finally experiencing their first dose of justice in the aftermath of a 2015 duck boat accident that occurred in Seattle. In early February, a jury ordered defendants to pay about $123 million to 40 individuals who were injured or lost loved ones because of the crash.
The jury found Ride the Ducks International, the maker of the amphibious vehicle, about 70% responsible for the crash. It also assigned the remainder of the blame to Ride the Ducks of Seattle, the company that operated tours using the Ride the Duck International’s vehicles.
What Happened During & After the Accident?
On September 24, 2015, a duck boat was on a tour when it suddenly lost control and crashed. It was traveling on the Aurora Bridge when it suddenly veered into a bus carrying students and faculty from North Seattle College. The collision claimed the lives of five people and injured dozens.
Investigators later determined that the duck boat crashed because of a broken front axle. The duck boat’s manufacturer claimed it warned operator Ride the Ducks of Seattle of issues with the axle and advised the company to repair them. In their testimony, the operator insisted that the manufacturer's recommended fix would not have prevented the failure.
Immediately after the accident, officials suspended Ride the Ducks of Seattle from operating and ordered it to pay $222,000 in penalties. The company acknowledged that it had 159 critical safety violations with the operation of their WWII-era vehicles. It resumed operations after paying fines. Additionally, Ride the Ducks International paid up to $1 million in fines. Both companies settled with 4 plaintiffs for $8.25 million before the 2019 jury’s decision.
Why Are Duck Boats Still Operating on American Roads?
As we have revealed in the past, duck boats are inherently dangerous and have a long history of injuring and killing passengers. Thirteen people were killed in 1999 in Arkansas on a duck boat. Five people were killed in 2015 in Seattle on a duck boat. Seventeen people were killed in 2018 in Missouri on a duck boat. As the death tolls needlessly rise because of these boats, survivors and the families of victims keep having to ask: "why are these still operating?"