The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) says investigators have discovered that the “Ride the Ducks” amphibious vehicle involved in a fatal collision on the Aurora Bridge last week did not have an axel repair that was recommended by company officials two years ago.
According to the Associated Press (AP), Ride The Ducks International – the parent corporation which owns the Seattle branch and refurbished the vehicle involved in the crash back in 2005 to be used as a touring vehicle – found in 2013 that the vehicle was especially prone to axle failure and recommended a specific axle repair and increased monitoring.
During the NTSB’s investigation into the fatal collision that claimed the lives of five international students from North Seattle College last week, investigators made two significant discoveries; the vehicle’s front left axle had sheared off, and the vehicle did not have the recommended repair.
It is unclear if the axle had broken before or after the collision occurred, which will undoubtedly be an important detail for investigators to sort out in determining any contributing factors and responsibility – and therefore liability – for the collision.
Witnesses Say Vehicle "Locked Up" Before 'Ride The Ducks' Crash
Witnesses have described seeing the left front tire of the vehicle “lock up” immediately before the vehicle swerved and crashed into the charter bus that was carrying a group of international students around the city at the time.
Brian Tracey, owner of Ride The Ducks of Seattle, told reporters that the company is cooperating fully with authorities as they investigate all possible factors that may have contributed to the fatal crash. Tracey says he, Washington Governor Jay Inslee, and Seattle Mayor Ed Murray all agreed that the Ride The Ducks tours should be suspended pending the outcome of the investigation.
Many have been outspoken about the risks and dangers of Ride The Ducks vehicles on land, claiming that the vehicles make it difficult to see pedestrians and smaller vehicles and don’t have the ability to brake reasonably like regular cars and trucks.