Tugboat Mate Involved in Ducks Crash Takes the 5th

Investigators are trying to sort out exactly what led to the sinking of a Ride the Ducks Boat Wednesday afternoon that resulted in the death of two tourists.

The National Transportation Board’s investigation took an interesting turn Monday when the mate of a tugboat pushing the 250-foot barge that struck the Ducks boat exercised his Fifth Amendment right instead of telling the NTSB what he knows.

It isn’t clear why the mate choose to take the Fifth. But, some details of the crash were already clear, said the NTSB.

The Ducks boat was anchored for about five to 10 minutes after experiencing engine failure.

The Caribbean Sea was towing The Resource barge northbound at five knots within the Delaware River Channel when the deadly crash happened, investigators said.

Did the tugboat crew know that they were bearing down on the Ducks (DUKW 34) boat and the 37 people on board?

“The NTSB… interviewed the operators of several vessels in the area at the time of the accident, and they stated that they recalled hearing the DUKW 34's radio calls on channel 13,” the NTSB said in a release. “Although not all radio channels are recorded, the NTSB is attempting to verify this information.”

On board the tugboat Caribbean Sea at the time of the crash were a master, mate, engineer and two deckhands, according to the NTSB.

On Saturday the NTSB talked to the master, engineer and one of the deckhands. But, the mate wouldn’t talk.

“Investigators are continuing to examine and document the structural damage of both vessels and will attempt to determine the nature of the mechanical problem that affected the DUKW 34 before the accident,” the NTSB said. “Investigators have collected photographs and video that may provide further information regarding the accident sequence and will be working to develop a chronology of events leading up to the accident.”

The NTSB was also looking into the GPS and electronic charting of the Caribbean Sea.

The collision left Hungarian tourists Dora Schwendtner, 16, and Szabolcs Prem, 20, dead and ten other passengers injured.

The ongoing investigation continues and besides the tugboat’s mate the other parties involved continue to cooperate, according to the NTSB.

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