Fatal Philadelphia Duckboat Crash Settled for $17 Million

A Boston duckboat, by Flickr user Patrick Haney, licensed via Creative Commons.Though it walks two worlds, it is master of none.

A duckboat is a particular kind of bus that can travel by both land and sea.  Typically seen in cities like Philadelphia and Boston, which have prominent and accessible rivers, the boat/bus hybrid is particularly useful for tour companies, the novelty of amphibious sightseeing being extremely attractive to tourists.  Rarely do these duckboats cause a problem.  Their pre-planned and short water routes don’t get in the way of bigger ships, and on land they operate just like normal buses.  Back in July 2010, however, bad luck and negligence conspired conspired to end this reputation of relative safety.  A duckboat stalled in the water.  A tugboat captain pushing a barge turned down his emergency radio and looked away to answer a phone call.  The two vessels — one helpless, one aimless — collided.  The duck boat tumbled underneath the barge, bringing two Hungarian tourists to a watery grave.  Yesterday, after two years of negotiations and court maneuvering, lawyers associated with the case announced that they had reached a settlement with the tug- and duckboat companies.

Read more