Duck boats going back to Del. River?

Ride the Ducks vehicles did not get permission yesterday to operate on the Schuylkill River, but after getting rejected by city officials for a new route, the company said it is working to begin once again touring the Delaware River this spring.

Grounded since last summer when a city barge crushed one of their duck boats, killing two Hungarian tourists, the company received approval from the Coast Guard to resume operations.

After denying the Schuylkill route, the city said a binding agreement between Ride the Ducks and Delaware River Waterfront Corp. means the company has the right to go back into the water.

A city official said last night that “the city has public safety concerns about Ride the Ducks operating on the water and looks forward to working with them and the Coast Guard to assure safety for everyone.”

However, the lawyer for the families of Dora Schwendtner and Szabolcs Prem said previous official reports by the National Transportation Safety Board calls into question the safety of the duck boats.

“If the city allows that, I think it will expose their tourists and citizens to these death traps,” Robert Mongeluzzi said.

A Ride the Ducks official said they have worked all along to assure ultimate safety of their riders and the Coast Guard’s approval proves that.

Lawsuits remain

A lawsuit filed by families for two Hungarian tourists killed in the duck boat sinking remains in local and federal court, with the city of Philadelphia, Ride the Ducks and the owner of the tugboat that pulled a city barge as defendants. The NTSB says it expects to issue a final report on last year’s crash in the summer.

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