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Duck Boat Captain Sues Philadelphia, Tug Operator Over Fatal Accident

A duck boat captain, who sustained head injuries in a crash with a barge that killed two tourists in July, has filed suit against the city of Philadelphia and a tugboat operator, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Capt. Gary Fox filed his action in Common Pleas Court last Thursday, alleging that he almost was killed in the July 7 accident on the Delaware River and that he has sustained devastating physical and emotional injuries.

The city owned the barge that struck Fox’s duck boat, and K-Sea Transportation owned the tugboat that was towing the barge.

Fox’s lawsuit claims that he “suffered serious physical injuries, including to his head, back, neck, arms, and legs, all of which may be permanent.”

Fox’s complaint isn’t the only one stemming from the crash. In August the families of the two young tourists who were killed, Dora Schwendtner, 16, and Szabolcs, 20, filed a negligence and wrongful death suit against Ride the Ducks, the company that owned the duck boat, Philadelphia and K-Sea.

Capt. Fox’s suit charges that K-Sea didn’t have a proper lookout, that it didn’t listen to radio warnings and that it violated other safety rules. Philadelphia should have known the Delaware River waterway was dangerous, according to the lawsuit. 

 Fox’s duck boat was having problems, with smoke coming out of it engine, and was thus rendered immobile the day of the accident. When Fox saw the barge and rugboat coming toward him, he repeatedly radioed over marine channels to warn that his boat didn’t have any power, and the approaching vessels needed to change course, according to his lawsuit.

But the tugboat still continued toward the duck boat, and Fox told his 35 passengers to put on life jackets. The barge went over the duck boat, trapping Fox under its hull, according to The Inquirer. Fox escaped in the nick of time, just before he ran out of oxygen, and his attorney told The Inquirer that the captain “can still see the faces of the victims and hear their screams.”  

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