DUKW And Barge Collide In Delaware River (Philadelphia)

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DUKW And Barge Collide In Delaware River (Philadelphia)

Post by FSTargetDrone »

The Philadelphia Inquirer:
Posted on Wed, Jul. 7, 2010

2 missing after duck boat crashes into barge

By Sam Wood and Nathan Gorenstein

INQUIRER STAFF WRITER

A duck boat packed with tourists collided with a barge on the Delaware River this afternoon soon after it entered the water at Penns Landing, police said.

The collision, at about 2:40 p.m., sent at least 37 adults and children into the river off Columbus Boulevard near Chestnut Street.

Thirty-five passengers have been recovered, said the Coast Guard. A search for two missing passengers continued at 3:40 p.m., said Petty Officer Crystal Keen.

Norman Civera, 41, said he witnessed the duck boat hit the barge.

"It hit pretty hard and pulled the boat under," Civera said. "It went straight under."

He said he saw passengers getting rescued from the water. Some were screaming. None were wearing life jackets, he said.

Four of the passengers - a barefoot and limping teenaged girl, a male in a wheelchair with a head bandage, and two young women - were taken to Hahnemann University Hospital for treatment.

Witness Eric Scharpf, a tourist from Phoenix, Az., told CBS3 that the duck boat had apparently stalled when it was rammed by the barge. The barge "tore it apart," Scharpf said.

Another witness told CBS3 that the barge "just pushed it right under the water" and tourists popped out on either side of the barge.

The barge was being pushed by a tug on its port side.

The duck boat can carry 37 passengers and two crew members, said Sharla Feldsher, spokeswoman for Ride the Ducks.

"We're doing everything we can for the passengers and our guests," Feldsher said.

Tourists board the boats at Independence Mall and after touring Old City they enter the river for a brief tour at a ramp just south of the Ben Franklin Bridge.

Ride the Ducks, which began operating in Philadelphia in 2003, runs 15 duck boats in the city. It launches its vessels from a ramp it built on property owned by the former Penn's Landing Corp. The company itself is about 35 years old, and operates duck boats also in Atlanta, Baltimore, Memphis, Tenn., and Branson, Mo.

The city Streets Department licenses the boats for loading and unloading on the street.

In 1999, the Miss Majestic, an amphibious tour boat, sank and killed 13 passengers in Hot Springs, Arkansas.

The Inquirer will post more details as they become available.
It's unclear if this is a refurbished DUKW or just a reproduction (as is apparently sometimes the case with these "Duck Ride" companies) but that is probably irrelevant. What is relevant is that there are conflicting stories about whether or not the passengers were wearing life jackets at the time of the collision, despite what the above story says. I'm watching TV and some visiting SEALS from an unknown vessel helped in the rescue. 2 are still missing and the DUKW is underwater, so that looks bad.

UPDATE:

CNN is covering this now.

As an aside the Olympia and SS United States (mentioned in a recent thread here in N&P) have been visible in the video. The accident happened near the Olympia, I believe.
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Re: DUKW And Barge Collide In Delaware River (Philadelphia)

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The bodies of two missing people, tourists from Hungary, have been recovered:
Posted on Fri, Jul. 9, 2010

2d body, duck boat pulled from river

By James Osborne and Allison Steele

Inquirer Staff Writers

Police believe they have now recovered both passengers who were killed when a duck boat was run over and sunk Wednesday by a city-owned barge.

The latest find came about 3:10 p.m. when a body thought to be missing 20-year-old Hungarian tourist, Szablcs Prem, popped to the surface as a tugboat towed away a recovery barge.

The recovery vessel had pulled the wreck of the duck boat from the bottom of the river hours before.

The body of the missing 16-year-old Hungarian girl was recovered early this morning. She was Dora Schwendtner, said Eszter Pataki, a Hungarian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman in Budapest.

U.S. officials had notified Hungarian diplomats the body had been found before dawn north of the Walt Whitman Bridge, Pataki said,

The two were members of a group of students visiting the United States in a program with a Methodist church in West Chester.

Pataki said the students had planned to fly home on July 23, but some now wish to return to Hungary sooner.

"As you might imagine, they are all very shocked," she said. "This is a horrible tragedy."

Mayor Nutter is looking into how flights can be changed to help students return their tickets and fly home earlier than planned.

A fisherman spotted the girl's body about 4:45 a.m. off Pier 80 at the foot of Snyder Avenue, officials said.

The crew of the Fire Department's Marine Unit 1 recovered the remains and took them to the Packer Marine Terminal.

The body was taken to the Medical Examiner's Office for identification, police said.

The discovery came about four hours before work began to recover the sunken duck boat.

About 8:45 a.m., a North Camden-based salvage barge arrived at the crash site off Penn's Landing.

The 10-man crew will used the crane on the barge to pull the 18,000 pound amphibious vehicle to the surface from the river bottom about 40-feet down.

Divers had gone into the water to attach a sling to the sunken vessel.

Their operation required the approval of federal authorities, including the U.S. Coast Guard and the National Transportation Safety Board, which is investigating the cause of Wednesday's crash.

Weeks Marine salvaged the wreckage of the U.S. Airways plane that crashed into New York's Hudson River last summer.

A small crowd of people gathered at Penns Landing to watch the operation on the water 50 yards away.

Among them was Don Park, 52, of Camden, who has been watching the activity in the river since the accident and came to Philadelphia today to get a closer look.

"You get a front-row seat," he said. "I'm a [recreational] boater myself and I'm curious to know."
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Video.
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Re: DUKW And Barge Collide In Delaware River (Philadelphia)

Post by Sea Skimmer »

On the lifejackets the story seems pretty clear; they had them but no on put one on until just before the barge struck. Some people got them on, some didn’t. The Coastguard also has no recording of the call the operator claims to have made, and all calls on that radio channel are automatically recorded.

Some people are also saying the operator was actually trying to call the home base to get a tow sent out repeatedly, because no one on the other end. This sounds like a lot more likely story.

The awnings on those DUCKs makes them dangerous, the originals never had anything like that. An earlier sinking of a tourist DUCK killed 13 people on a lake so it seems like this one was very lucky and only because the barge was moving very slowly.
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Re: DUKW And Barge Collide In Delaware River (Philadelphia)

Post by FSTargetDrone »

It seems reasonable to me that it should be standard procedure that all of these duck boat passengers should be wearing life jackets while the vessel is on the water.

In the video report I linked there is a still showing the barge striking the DUKW.

By the way, the visiting "SEALS" that assisted are members of Special Boat Team 20 based in Virginia.
Navy, CG assist in Philadelphia boat rescue

By Susan Schept - Staff writer
Posted : Friday Jul 9, 2010 13:19:27 EDT

Navy special warfare boat operators rescued nine out of 37 people who were thrown into the Delaware River on Wednesday after the amphibious craft they were riding in was struck and sunk by a barge. Coast Guardsmen and local police and fire crews also rushed to the scene and rescued all but two of the passengers, who remain missing.

Special Boat Team 20, based in Virginia, happened to be in the right place at the right time. The team had two Mark V boats near Penn’s Landing in Philadelphia, and it was preparing to go to a community relations event when sailors heard the distress call.

One of the Mark Vs, which was underway, sped to the scene followed by the second, which had been at the dock.

“We were the first responders,” said Special Warfare Boat Operator 1st Class Garrett Rodriguez. “Some of us jumped out and started grabbing people. They were just exhausted, in shock.”

Rodriguez said some of his team members pulled people into boats. One of the team members jumped off a jetty and helped push passengers to the pier, where three other team members pulled them ashore.

Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Patrick Perdew, 33, who was assigned to the boat team, said the passengers rescued by the sailors didn’t have “discernible injuries” and were able to walk when they brought them ashore.

“We were just happy to help,” said Capt. Chuck Wolf, the commander of Naval Special Warfare Group 4. “The city responders deserve all of the credit.”

The special boat operators took one of the boats to the spot where they thought the tourist boat sank. They used a depth finder to locate the boat and then notified the Coast Guard.

“We did what we could to assist,” said Lt. Cate Wallace, a spokeswoman for Naval Special Warfare Command in Coronado, Calif. “It really was just a matter of being in the right place at the right time and doing the right thing.”

Meanwhile, hope faded for finding the two missing passengers alive, searchers said. The Coast Guard called off the search Thursday night.

Before that announcement, a search for the missing passengers saw boats searching the surface and using sonar. Conditions were too dangerous to send divers underwater.

“There is no visibility whatsoever on the bottom,” said Philadelphia police Lt. Andrew Napoli, speaking of his earlier dives. “The vehicle is laying upright on its wheels. There could be bodies inside, we’re not sure. ... With the currents being what they are, if it went down with bodies inside, the bodies could very well have been washed out of the vessel.”

Interviews with other passengers indicate the missing 16-year-old girl and 20-year-old man were members of a Hungarian tour group, officials said.

The National Transportation Safety Board said it planned to try to obtain any radio recordings, any possible mayday calls, photographs from witnesses or people aboard and other evidence as its investigators remain in Philadelphia over the next several days.

— — —

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
This is the kind of vessel they had in the area:

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Re: DUKW And Barge Collide In Delaware River (Philadelphia)

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FSTargetDrone wrote:It seems reasonable to me that it should be standard procedure that all of these duck boat passengers should be wearing life jackets while the vessel is on the water.
Why? We don't mandate they be worn on normal boats, and being hot and uncomfortable a mandatory life jacket policy would probably kill off the tours. The DUCKs are already banned from going more then 100 yards into the water anyway; its just that at Penn's Landing the far too small shipping channel runs right along the end of the piers.
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Re: DUKW And Barge Collide In Delaware River (Philadelphia)

Post by Kanastrous »

^ a bit OT but those MK V's are fucking incredible. We're re-creating a pair for the present project, which involved spending a couple days down in San Diego, crawling all over one with tapes, tools and cameras...and aren't the crews eager to have a chance to show them off...

...maybe for the purpose of tourist boats the operators could issue the kind of vests that are provided on airliners - they're very thin and don't much get in your way or restrict your movement, and inflate automatically when they hit the water (so even an unconscious passenger might get some benefit from wearing one, if they're lucky).
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Re: DUKW And Barge Collide In Delaware River (Philadelphia)

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A crappy little life jacket like the airliner ones isn't going to do shit to save you when a barge overturns your vessel and you are trapped under an awning, under the barge. Several of the survivors are reporting they swam out from under it, and one body was recovered from within the DUCK meaning they never had a chance to escape that far. I really don't see life jackets making a difference one way or another; but what do you want out of an accident in which a two thousand ton object hits a five ton object? Other things went wrong, and of course this accident was entirely avoidable.

The awnings should be modified though so that they will tear away very easily and in several pieces. That would be one inherent hazard reduced and the only downside would be they might loose an awning piece to very high winds now and then.
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Re: DUKW And Barge Collide In Delaware River (Philadelphia)

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The particular sequence of events in *this* incident isn't the same as every boat accident that will ever take place, you know. Sure, those life jackets may have been of little utility in this specific accident but as general safety equipment they may still make sense. I probably should have clarified that in my post.
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Re: DUKW And Barge Collide In Delaware River (Philadelphia)

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Kanastrous wrote:The particular sequence of events in *this* incident isn't the same as every boat accident that will ever take place, you know.
And as I already pointed out, boat passengers are not required to have life jackets on at all times, just that they exist on the vessel in sufficient number, which was also the case for the DUCK rides. They had proper lifejackets too, not crappy tiny airliner inflating ones which are prone to failure and could barely save you from a puddle on a dry day. A much better and simpler non inconvenient policy would just be to have people put the jackets on should the vessel become disabled or otherwise imperiled. That's mainly a training issue. Safety issues are usually best addressed by that. I wont be surprised if the DUCK tour companies start adding small outboard motors after this as well, just as a closing the barn door defense against a identical accident.

Sure, those life jackets may have been of little utility in this specific accident but as general safety equipment they may still make sense. I probably should have clarified that in my post.
Okay, then what is your point? Because they already had life jackets and they made no difference. If your point is you think everyone should have lifejacket on anytime they are on the water on any vessel then okay, but say it already because you are just being vague now.
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Re: DUKW And Barge Collide In Delaware River (Philadelphia)

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Sea Skimmer wrote:A crappy little life jacket like the airliner ones isn't going to do shit to save you when a barge overturns your vessel and you are trapped under an awning, under the barge.
It's also worth noting that if one is trapped under an awning and wearing an effective life jacket, that makes it much harder to escape drowning. To do that, one has to go down faster than the boat is sinking, along and then up. Not easy with a life jacket dragging you to the surface.
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Re: DUKW And Barge Collide In Delaware River (Philadelphia)

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Also those crappy little airline life jackets are hard to inflate, despite what those silly safety videos try to say.
Sea Skimmer wrote:The awnings should be modified though so that they will tear away very easily and in several pieces. That would be one inherent hazard reduced and the only downside would be they might loose an awning piece to very high winds now and then.
But then again, if one of those flaps did fly off in a gust, covered someone's windshield, and caused a crash, they'd be looking at huge lawsuits. It may be a risk they wouldn't want to make.
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Re: DUKW And Barge Collide In Delaware River (Philadelphia)

Post by eion »

Mayabird wrote:
Sea Skimmer wrote:The awnings should be modified though so that they will tear away very easily and in several pieces. That would be one inherent hazard reduced and the only downside would be they might loose an awning piece to very high winds now and then.
But then again, if one of those flaps did fly off in a gust, covered someone's windshield, and caused a crash, they'd be looking at huge lawsuits. It may be a risk they wouldn't want to make.
That's a simple fix. Just have 3 tear-away seams and 1 normal seam. That way even if you lose the awning in the wind it still remains attacked to the DUCK.
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Re: DUKW And Barge Collide In Delaware River (Philadelphia)

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That's true. The important thing is for the awning to not block the way for heads to get above water, not full detachment.

I've never been on one of those tours or anything like them, but do they ever ask if any of the passengers can't swim?
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Re: DUKW And Barge Collide In Delaware River (Philadelphia)

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Sea Skimmer wrote:A much better and simpler non inconvenient policy would just be to have people put the jackets on should the vessel become disabled or otherwise imperiled. That's mainly a training issue. Safety issues are usually best addressed by that.
That certainly seems reasonable.
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Re: DUKW And Barge Collide In Delaware River (Philadelphia)

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Mayabird wrote:That's true. The important thing is for the awning to not block the way for heads to get above water, not full detachment.

I've never been on one of those tours or anything like them, but do they ever ask if any of the passengers can't swim?
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Re: DUKW And Barge Collide In Delaware River (Philadelphia)

Post by CaptainChewbacca »

Mayabird wrote:That's true. The important thing is for the awning to not block the way for heads to get above water, not full detachment.

I've never been on one of those tours or anything like them, but do they ever ask if any of the passengers can't swim?
No, its bad for business to remind passengers they might die. Also, it wouldn't really help, because they can't legally do anything about it if a passenger CAN'T swim.
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Re: DUKW And Barge Collide In Delaware River (Philadelphia)

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CaptainChewbacca wrote:
Mayabird wrote:That's true. The important thing is for the awning to not block the way for heads to get above water, not full detachment.

I've never been on one of those tours or anything like them, but do they ever ask if any of the passengers can't swim?
No, its bad for business to remind passengers they might die. Also, it wouldn't really help, because they can't legally do anything about it if a passenger CAN'T swim.
Couldn't they refuse to allow someone aboard in the first place and thus have no issue? Don't companies usually do such things, if only for liability reasons?
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