The Latest: NTSB hearing into Seattle crash ends

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Posted: Nov 15, 2016 3:55 PM
The Latest: NTSB hearing into Seattle crash ends

SEATTLE (AP) — The Latest on a National Transportation Safety Board hearing to determine the cause of a deadly amphibious tour boat crash in Seattle in 2015 (all times local):

12:51 p.m.

After hearing reports from the NTSB staff who investigated the deadly Ride the Ducks crash in Seattle, the board determined the probable cause was a mechanical failure and improper maintenance of the amphibious passenger vehicle.

NTSB Chairman Christopher Hart also said Tuesday contributing factors to the severity of the 2015 crash that killed five and injured 69 people was a lack of protections for the passengers, including seatbelts.

Hart said "APVs, or 'Duck Boats,' provide a unique sightseeing option in many American cities, yet until now, these vehicles have been operated without any regulatory oversight when driven on our roads and highways."

The board issued 10 new safety recommendations that include requiring the use of seatbelts when the vehicles are on the road.

The board issued one urgent recommendation that requires Ride the Ducks International to order all of its franchise companies to stop using the stretch vehicles until their axle housings can be repaired or replaced.

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11:30 a.m.

An investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board says Ride the Ducks International sent out an urgent service bulletin in 2013 alerting operators about problems with the axle housing of the amphibious passenger vehicles.

In 2015, one of the boats was involved in a crash in Seattle that left five people died and 69 people injured. Earlier Tuesday, NTSB Chairman Christopher Hart said the Ride the Ducks vehicle had a fractured left axle housing.

The NTSB said at a meeting about the crash that a copy of the service bulletin was found in the Seattle company's office, but its investigation determined the operators didn't fix the problems.

Investigator Brian Bragonier says Ride the Ducks Seattle lacked the protocols to ensure that maintenance was completed properly and didn't address the known risk of an axle housing failure.

Another investigator said the recommendations in the bulletin may not have adequately fixed the problems with the axle.

The broken axle caused the driver to lose control and the Duck vehicle crossed into oncoming traffic.

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11 a.m.

The chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board says an investigation into a deadly amphibious tour boat crash in Seattle found it was caused by a mechanical failure.

NTSB Chairman Christopher Hart said Tuesday the Ride the Ducks vehicle had a fractured left axle housing.

Five people died and 69 people were injured in the Sept. 24, 2015, accident.

Hart said in his opening statement at a meeting of the agency that the chain of events leading to the crash began years before it happened.

He says there were missing layers of safety oversight in the way amphibious passenger vehicles were manufactured, operated and maintained.

A safety defect in the axle house of the model of the vehicle in the crash had been found, but a modification didn't address the defect.

The board will make safety recommendations after hearing the full report.

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7:37 a.m.

The National Transportation Safety Board is meeting to determine the probable cause of the 2015 crash of a Ride the Ducks vehicle that left five people dead and dozens injured.

The amphibious passenger vehicle was traveling north over the Aurora Bridge on State Route 99 in Seattle when it crossed the center line into the southbound lanes.

Duck 6 hit a charter bus full of college students, killing five and injuring people on both vehicles. Three other vehicles were damaged in the crash.

An NTSB preliminary investigation said the Duck boat's axle failed.

The NTSB will meet in Washington D.C. on Tuesday to review the evidence collected in order to learn what likely caused the crash.