SEATTLE — The National Transportation Safety Board says a duck boat involved in a fatal Seattle crash didn't have an axle repair that was recommended for the amphibious vehicle in 2013.
NTSB member Earl Weener said Sunday that investigators only recently learned that Ride the Ducks International issued a warning in 2013 about potential axle failure and recommended a specific repair. But Weener says the boat involved in Seattle crash didn't have the fix.
Weener says it's unclear if the company that owns the vehicle — Ride the Ducks of Seattle — was aware of the warning.
"We're going to be following that up as we continue to gather facts back in Washington, D.C., as well," he said.
Late Sunday, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said the state will seek to suspend the operations of Seattle’s duck boat fleet pending the outcome of the investigation.
Inslee and Seattle Mayor Ed Murray said in a statement Sunday night that the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission will meet Monday to discuss its authority to suspend Ride the Ducks of Seattle until the review is complete.
The company says it has already temporarily halted its operations while it assists investigators.
The commission says it wants to inspect each amphibious tour vehicle in the company’s fleet and review the records of every driver.
Investigators said Saturday that the left front axle of the duck boat was sheared off, but they hadn't determined if that damage happened before the collision or during it.
The federal probe is expected to take months.
It’s the first time the NTSB has looked into a land crash of the amphibious vehicles, which critics say are too dangerous for city streets. The federal agency has scrutinized duck tour vehicles several times when they’ve been in accidents on water.
State regulators also have opened an investigation, which entails inspecting all vehicle and driver records.
The amphibious vehicle involved in the crash — known as Duck No. 6 — underwent regular annual examinations by a federally certified inspector, most recently in 2015 and 2014, and met federal standards, Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission spokeswoman Amanda Maxwell said.
Ride the Ducks International refurbished the duck boat in 2005.
The crash last week between that vehicle and a charter bus left four international college students dead at the scene. A fifth student, a 20-year-old woman attending North Seattle College, died Sunday, according to Harborview Medical Center, where more than a dozen people remain hospitalized from the accident.
The amphibious vehicle tours are offered around the world, including in Philadelphia; Austin, Texas; Miami; Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; and London.
Contributing: The Associated Press
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