WASHINGTON, April 28, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Robert J. Mongeluzzi whose firm, Saltz Mongeluzzi & Bendesky P.C., represents nearly two dozen of the July 2018 Branson, Missouri duck boat disaster victims, including survivor Tia Coleman, whose husband and their three young children were among the 17 killed in America's deadliest duck boat incident, said that "today's NTSB findings confirm that duck boats are death traps and should not be operated on the water with canopies that cage, entrap and drown their passengers. Sadly, this is the same recommendation that the NTSB issued in 2002 and 19 passengers in two separate tragedies drowned because the duck boat industry was more concerned with profits than safety."
Along with his attorney-partners Andrew R. Duffy and Jeffrey P. Goodman, Mr. Mongeluzzi commended the NTSB's work, stating, "Today, the NTSB continued to sound the alarm that the Coast Guard and the Duck Boat industry has ignored for over 20 years. Duck Boats are death traps, which when flooded become sinking coffins. The Coast Guard and Duck Boat industry have the blood of these Branson victims on their hands for continuing to ignore the warnings. Hopefully this time, they will listen."
Mrs. Coleman, who lost five other relatives in addition to her immediate family, said after the hearing, "The images the NTSB presented today run through my mind every day as I struggle to understand why this tragedy happened and continue to mourn. I hope that the Duck Boat industry and Coast Guard listened hard today and make the necessary changes moving forward."
Mr. Duffy, who noted that this is the latest in a series of adamant NTSB life-saving recommendations to the Coast Guard, added, "Duck Boat operators and their Captains everywhere should carefully review the NTSB's findings. If operations continue, there will inevitably be future tragedies and the companies and Captains who continue the operation of these death traps will be subject to substantial civil and criminal liability." He said, "Besides ignoring prior NTSB recommendations to remove the rigid canopies, duck boat operators also turned a blind eye when urged to provide enhanced reserve buoyancy so that the boats would remain afloat and upright in the event of flooding, even when carrying a full complement of passengers and crew." Mr. Duffy added, "Today the NTSB demonstrated yet again why these WWII relics belong in museums, not on America's waterways or roads. Not in Branson, Boston, not anywhere."
Mr. Goodman said the families of the duck boat victims appreciate the hard work of the NTSB and its staff members, and stated "as the families continue to mourn the loss of their loved ones, they hope that this tragedy will finally compel the Coast Guard to take the necessary actions to make sure that no other families must suffer such a senseless tragedy."
The Mongeluzzi firm represents the families of 11 of the deceased victims as well as 10 surviving passengers who were on board Stretch Duck 07.
SOURCE Saltz Mongeluzzi & Bendesky P.C.