Duck boat users recall recent danger

July 8, 2010 5:54:13 PM PDT
A family discusses their own recent experience with a duck boat overheating.

"Duck boat emergency...our duck boat started to smoke just as we entered the water...we all had to be evacuated" That is what Geri Sullivan posted on Facebook just last Thursday.

"And I guess he knew as soon as we splashed down into the water that this engine was going to overheat," Geri said.

"The vehicle was not on the water. It was located near the ramp," Chris Herschend of 'Ride the Ducks' said.

Herschend says the Coast Guard would have a report for any water incidents, but keep in mind, the onus is on the company to file that report.

"We were there and we had a boatful of people and this could have been a similar situation and fortunately, our captain turned around and went back up the ramp?it makes me angry because I knew what we experienced on July 1st," Geri said.

Meantime, Herschend says the boat now underwater is not the same one that was involved in the incident on July 1st.

"In our entire operating history here, this is our seventh season, we have never had an accident on the water," Herschend said.

He says there was one water incident during which debris lodged in the rudder, but in that case, the tour was unaffected.

Herschend also says there have been four incidents this year of duck boats overheating, but only one, on the 4th of July, involved a boat with passengers on board.

Meantime, duck boats nationwide have had serious problems in the past.

In 1999, 13 people were killed on Lake Hamilton in Arkansas when a boat, involving a different tour company, sank.

The sinking was blamed on lax Coast Guard inspections that failed to catch a faulty seal.

In June 2002, four people were killed when a duck boat, also from a different touring company, sank in the Ottawa River in Canada.

And earlier this week a Hawaii Duck Tours boat exploded in a warehouse.

A 67-year-old man suffered second degree burns to his legs and arms.

Herschend says a captain and mechanic inspect each duck boat twice a day, once before a trip and again afterward.

He would not, however, release to Action News that inspection checklist or any maintenance records.