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NTSB Discovers Tugboat Driver was Using Cell Phone before Deadly Crash

In July 2010, a tugboat collided with a duck boat filled with tourists on the Delaware River near Philadelphia. The collision sank the duck boat into the 55-foot deep water, killing two tourists and injuring 26 more. In a public hearing held last month in Washington, D.C., the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) revealed that the distracted driver of the tugboat was the cause of the fatal accident.

As reported by the Wilmington Technology Examiner, the NTSB investigation revealed that the driver of the Caribbean Sea tugboat was using a personal cell phone and a company-provided laptop computer while operating the tugboat. Apparently, he was using the devices to deal with a family issue.

The NTSB report said the distracted tugboat operator was the only person navigating the tugboat at the time of the collision. His repeated personal use of the cell phone and computer, along with his decision to operate the tugboat from the lower wheelhouse caused the accident, according to the NTSB. Operating the tugboat from the lower wheelhouse made it difficult to maintain a proper lookout, said the NTSB report.

The NTSB advised the U.S. Coast Guard against on-duty crewmembers using cell phones and other wireless electronic devices.

Koonz, McKenney, Johnson, DePaolis & Lightfoot, L.L.P.

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