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Tugboat Driver Will Go to Jail for Killing Two in Boat Crash

March 11, 2012
Colson Hicks Eidson

The tugboat driver that piloted a barge into a tiny Duck Boat last year will spend a year in prison.

The YouTube video of the fatal boat accident is difficult to watch. It shows a stranded Duck Boat in the Delaware River. A massive 250-foot barge dwarfs the Duck Boat and then runs it over, pushing it and its passengers beneath the surface of the water. The Duck Boat re-emerges to the surface, and when all is over, two passengers on the Duck Boat died in the accident.

As reported at, the tugboat driver said he was distracted while pushing the barge due to some family issues. He pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and a federal judge imposed the prison sentence earlier this month. The driver left the pilothouse to make a personal call on his cell phone. Leaving the pilothouse took him away from a view of the water in front of him. In addition, he turned down the radios so he could make his phone call. The radios were blaring reports of the stranded Duck Boat directly in front of him.

The pilot also had the option of having the tugboat captain pilot the vessel while he made his phone call. He did not do that, however.

Distractions while driving any type of moving vessel can lead to tragic results like this. Should laws ban cell phones from use for all commercial drivers and pilots while on duty?
Colson Hicks Eidson – Florida injury attorneys