Tugboat Operator in "Ride the Ducks" Accident Pleads Guilty

The tugboat operator, who was piloting the vessel which crashed into a Ride the Ducks tourist boat in the Delaware River, has agreed to plead guilty to criminal charges. He has been charged with one count of misconduct of a ship operator causing death. If convicted, the tugboat operator Matthew Delvin faces between 37 and 46 months in jail. His Coast Guard license will also be revoked. On July 7 last year, the tugboat, Caribbean Sea piloted by Delvin and pushing a barge formation, crashed into a tourist boat that had stalled in the Delaware River. The Ride the Ducks boat was carrying a group of tourists, including several Hungarians. When the tugboat ran into the smaller boat, it sent all passengers of the small boat into the water. Two tourists, a 16-year-old girl and a 20-year-old man, were killed in the accident. Since then, a report by the National Transportation Safety Board has concluded that Delvin was distracted by his cell phone in the minutes before the crash, and that this distraction contributed to the accident. According to records, Delvin sent and received several text messages in the minutes leading up to the crash, and also used his company-issued laptop for personal purposes. According to him, he had been distracted because of a family emergency involving his son, and had been checking up on the situation instead of watching the water. He was not only distracted, but he was also piloting the tugboat from the lower wheelhouse, where visibility was poor, instead of from the upper wheelhouse, from where he had been directed to. Additionally, he failed to maintain a proper lookout and failed to comply with other essential rules of seamanship. Brian Beckcom is a maritime lawyer dedicated to representing victims of boating and other maritime accidents across the country and worldwide.

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