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Federal agency says axle failure caused Ride the Ducks collision

SEATTLE — The loud “bang” heard by the Ride the Ducks tour driver came just as the World War II-era amphibious vehicle sustained a mechanical failure on the assembly of its left front axle.

Dozens of passengers lie injured on Aurora Ave. North after a Duck tour bus crossed the center line due to its left front tire going flat.
Dozens of passengers lie injured on Aurora Ave. North after a Duck tour bus crossed the center line due to its left front tire going flat.

The failure sent the vehicle across the centerline of Seattle’s Aurora Bridge and into an oncoming charter bus in a collision that killed five and injured dozens more in late September. Even as the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released a preliminary report Tuesday confirming for the first time that the axle failure caused the crash, it raised other questions about the Duck’s left front-wheel assembly. “The left front axle assembly that failed on the accident vehicle had an earlier modification to the axle housing that had been recommended by Ride The Ducks International but did not have an associated service bulletin,” according to the report.
The UTC — which regulates commercial-passenger carriers around the state — has suspended the company’s operations pending a full investigation of its fleet and safety and operational practices. The UTC team investigating the company has, among other things, inspected the smaller Ride the Ducks vehicles and is scheduled to inspect in mid-November the type involved in the deadly crash, according to a UTC staff member at the hearing.
Witnesses to the collision have said the Ride the Ducks vehicle appeared to have a mechanical problem with its left front wheel before swerving and crossing the narrow bridge’s centerline and careening into a charter bus owned by Bellair Charters & Airporter.
Victims and Their Families Can Protect Their Legal Rights
It’s important for injured accident victims and surviving family members to protect their legal rights. The medical bills, lost wages, and other damages resulting from accidents can be substantial. At-fault parties and insurance companies fight vigorously for their own financial interests, not the rights of the injured, the deceased, or their families.
Bishop Legal has experience successfully pursing damages for seriously injured victims and families resulting from collisions with poorly designed or improperly maintained malfunctioning vehicles. In 2015, Raymond Bishop and the Bishop Legal trial team attained a $40 million verdict against the Port of Seattle (Sea-Tac Airport) for a critically injured driver of a poorly maintained industrial vehicle, which similarly had faulty mechanics, and lacked necessary safety features.