On Fifth Anniversary of Fatal Delaware River Duck-Boat Disaster, Wrongful Death Complaint Filed in May 8th Pedestrian-Duck Boat Death in Center City

Attorneys for Family of Dr. Elizabeth Karnicki urge City to 'Ban The Deadly Ducks'

Jul 07, 2015, 12:14 ET from Saltz, Mongeluzzi, Barrett, & Bendesky, P.C.

PHILADELPHIA, July 7, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The family of Dr. Elizabeth Karnicki, former college professor and advocate for seniors, asserted in a wrongful death complaint filed today that on May 8th she was struck and killed by a tourist duck boat  while crossing a busy intersection  because the vehicle had "huge blind spots" that its careless and inattentive guide-operator failed to properly manage. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the Karnicki family by Saltz, Mongeluzzi, Barrett & Bendesky P.C., which successfully represented the families of the two Hungarian teenagers killed five years ago today in the duck boat disaster on the Delaware River in Philadelphia.

Robert J. Mongeluzzi, Esq., of Saltz Mongeluzzi, said his firm's comprehensive pre-filing investigation, including forensic, laser-composite accident reconstruction graphics,  determined with pinpoint accuracy that the amphibious Ride The Ducks vehicles are "not only unsafe on the water but they are clearly a lethal threat to pedestrians." The complaint urges they be removed from service.

According to the complaint (Filing No. 1507010050 / Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas), the operator of the duck boat (No. 46 in the Ride the Ducks Philadelphia fleet) accelerated from a green light at the extremely busy Pennsylvania Convention Center area at the 11th and Arch St. intersection without ever seeing Dr. Karnicki, who was within just feet of him when she was struck. Her head and body were crushed by the front tires and the boat's undercarriage. The one-time college instructor and practicing psychologist was visiting Philadelphia to attend a convention along with Dr. Daniel Karnicki,, her physician-husband. He watched in horror as his wife of nearly 40 years was crushed to death before his eyes. It is also alleged in the complaint, in which a jury trial is demanded and compensatory and punitive damages are sought, that:

  • The vehicle's blind spots were compounded by the design decision to locate the operator far back on the vessel, approximately 10 feet from the bow. 
  • The unsafe design results in it creating a visual obstruction for pedestrians that can prevent them from observing the traffic signals in the area. 
  • The driver, more conversational tour guide than focused vehicle operator, failed to manage the well-known blind spots; had he done so he would have waited for Dr. Karnicki to cross before accelerating. 
  • Ride the Ducks and defendant Amphibious Vehicle Manufacturing (AVM) were well aware of the massive blind spots created by the design yet chose not to design out this hazard for purely financial reasons. 
  • The use of the 1940s-era duck boat chassis allows Ride the Ducks to avoid compliance with modern vehicle safety regulations.

A total of five defendants, including Ride the Ducks International and Herschend Family Entertainment Corporation, its parent company, are named in the complaint.        

SOURCE Saltz, Mongeluzzi, Barrett, & Bendesky, P.C.