Limits sought after deadly crash

Violations found in probe of ‘duck boat’ tour company

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SEATTLE — State regulators investigating the Ride the Ducks tour company after a deadly crash on a Seattle bridge identified 442 violations in an overall review of operations and recommended penalties.

The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission also said the company should be allowed to resume operating a limited fleet of amphibious vehicles under certain conditions.

Ride the Ducks was shut down after one of its amphibious vehicles, a repurposed military “duck boat,” collided with the bus Sept. 24 on the Aurora Bridge. The crash killed five North Seattle College international students.

Authorities have been looking into whether axle failure caused the crash. The National Transportation Safety Board has said it could take a year to determine the cause.

A three-member commission will determine at a hearing Monday whether Ride the Ducks can resume operations. The panel could fine the company as much as $1,000 per violation.

Regulators proposed issuing an “unsatisfactory” safety rating for the company, based on one acute and six critical violations found in the overall review of operations. They said one driver drove 11 times without a valid commercial driver’s license and the company didn’t do enough random drug tests.

Regulators recommended the company be allowed to operate 10 “Truck-Duck” vehicles, which are different from the vehicle involved in the crash.

A specialist hired by the company is evaluating the other eight “Stretch Duck” vehicles. Regulators want the commission to have the results of that evaluation before it decides to allow those vehicles to operate.

Regulators also found 131 violations of critical regulations and 304 violations related to record-keeping. The company must correct the violations in 45 days or it will be shut down.

A message left with Ride the Ducks Seattle was not immediately returned Tuesday. A spokesman for the company did not immediately have a comment when reached by email.

The company has said it will no longer use the Aurora Bridge and future tours will include two employees.