Two young tourists remained missing last night in the mayhem following a crash between a 250-foot barge and a Ride the Ducks amphibious vehicle on the Delaware River yesterday afternoon.
The “duck boat” also disappeared after the collision, which witnesses described as the barge essentially running over the much smaller water craft carrying 35 tourists and two crew at about 2:30 p.m.
“It was one of the scariest things I ever saw. It took my breath away seeing the smaller boat get hit like that,” one witness, Erica Diamente of Vineland, N.J., said as many Coast Guard and city fire and police rescue boats scoured the river south of the Ben Franklin Bridge.
The missing 16-year-old girl and 20-year-old man, described in reports as tourists from Hungary, disappeared as the screaming passengers emerged from the crash. The barge was operating as a waste transport and steered by a privately-owned tugboat that officials did not identify.
The catastrophe occurred minutes after the duck boat broke down in the middle of the heavily-traveled river channel, police said. A small engine fire actually erupted on board but was put out just moments before the barge slammed into the helpless duck boat.
“We do not yet know why these two vehicles collided,” Mayor Michael Nutter said at the scene. “There’s still a lot of investigating to take place.”