Tugboat mate gets year for duck-boat crash

Nov. 1, 2011 at 3:08 PM
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PHILADELPHIA, Nov. 1 (UPI) -- A tug boat pilot was sentenced to a year and a day Tuesday for causing a collision with a Philadelphia duck boat that killed two young Hungarian visitors.

Matthew Devlin, 35, of Catskill, N.Y., could have received as much as four years in prison, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported He pleaded guilty in August to misconduct by a ship operator causing death, the equivalent of involuntary manslaughter.

Investigators learned that Devlin, the first mate of the tug, was distracted at the time of the crash, because he had just learned his son, during surgery, had been without oxygen for 8 minutes. A report said he should have handed over control of the boat to the captain instead of trying to steer while spending time on his cell phone and laptop computer.

Dora Schwendtner, 16, and Szabolcs Prem, 20, who were in the Philadelphia area with a church group, were killed in the crash in July 2010.

Prem's father, in a videotaped victim impact statement, described the effect his son's death has had on him, WCAU-TV, Philadelphia, reported. He said he spends much of his time weeping while listening to the Bruce Springsteen song, "Streets of Philadelphia."

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