Washington state suspends Ride the Ducks operations
The State of Washington officially suspended operations on Monday for Ride the Ducks.
In the wake of a tragic collision that resulted in the death of five international students at North Seattle College, the state’s Utilities and Transportation Commission held an emergency meeting on Monday. The commission decided to suspend the tour company’s operations as it reviews driver records and inspections of the companies fleet of amphibious vehicles.
The owner of Seattle’s Ride the Ducks tour company is keeping his fleet of amphibious vehicles off of Seattle roads and out of waterways after requests by the governor and city’s mayor.
A state inspection is expected.
The federal investigation into the fatal accident on Seattle’s Aurora Bridge has only raised more questions after investigators announced that the Duck vehicle had not received recommended service to its axle.
“The mayor and the governor called for a full inspection of the Ride the Ducks vehicles by the utilities and transportation commission and continued suspension of our operations until they conduct this critical work,” said Ride the Ducks Owner Brian Tracey at a Sunday news conference. “I want you to know that we are in complete agreement with this recommendation.”
Tracey said that he will not return any of his Ducks fleet to service until after they have been inspected by an independent party.
On Sunday, investigators learned that axle repairs had been recommended for the Duck vehicles in 2013. But the vehicle involved in the crash had not received the fix.
The recommendation was from Ride the Ducks International — Seattle’s Duck operation is a franchise. It is unknown if Seattle’s Ride the Ducks operation was aware of the warning, according to KING 5.
The axle holds the wheels on the car, and transmits power to them in order for them to spin.
The NTSB reports that initial inspection of the front left wheel of the Ducks vehicle indicate it was “sheered off.” How it was sheered off, however, has not been determined.
Ride the Ducks International refurbished the boat in 2005. In 2013, it issued a warning about a potential axle failure on the vehicle. A repair was recommended, and/or monitoring of the part, according to National Transportation Safety Board member Earl Weener.
The Ducks vehicle that crashed into a charter bus on Seattle’s Aurora Bridge was originally built in 1945, and like many of the Ducks’ fleet, it was initially used by the military. In 2005, it was refurbished with a General Motors engine and chassis.
Information from the Associated Press contributed to this report