Settlement reached in duck-boat crash suit

May 10, 2012 at 1:17 AM
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PHILADELPHIA, May 10 (UPI) -- The families of two young Hungarians killed in a tourist boat crash in Philadelphia are to receive $15 million in a settlement, lawyers said Wednesday.

Ride the Ducks, which operated the amphibious tour boat involved in the 2010 collision, and K-Sea Transportation Partners have also agreed to pay $2 million to 18 people on the duck boat who survived the crash, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

Dora Schwendtner, 16, and Szabolcs Prem, 20, who were in Philadelphia with a church group, were killed when a barge pulled by a K-Sea tugboat struck the duck boat. The first mate of the tug, who was on his cellphone and laptop after learning his son had a medical emergency, was sentenced to a short prison term.

Robert Mongeluzzi, who represented the Prem and Schwendtner families, said they were on their way back to Hungary Wednesday afternoon "without their precious only children."

The trial was halted Tuesday for settlement talks, a day after testimony began. The federal judge hearing the case would have had to decide the relative responsibilities of Ride the Ducks and K-Sea for the collision and whether damages could be set at higher than the $1.8 million value of the vessels involved, the normal limit under maritime law.

Investigators faulted the Ride the Ducks crew for stopping the boat in the middle of the Delaware River. The crew saw what they thought was smoke and feared a fire, but it later proved to be steam.

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