In the gondola business, we don't generate a lot of "international news", and when we do, we hope it is positive.
Today I was watching the news and caught a story which took place in another passenger boat category: duck boats.
The news was not so good.
Amphibious landing craft known as "ducks", typically employed by military concerns, have become popular as touring vehicles lately. I say "vehicles" because these great big behemoths are both boats and busses - they usually give tours through a waterway and then down the streets of major cities.
I can't imagine the kind of insurance policy a duck operator must have to run such a business.
Today in Philadelphia, on the Delaware River, a duck operated by "Ride the Ducks" suffered a mechanical failure followed by a small fire. Ten minutes later a barge plowed over the disabled "duck", throwing many if not all of her passenger into the water. According to the reports I've found, many were fished out of the water by emergency services boats, at least one by a ferry boat operating in the area at the time. As of this writing, three passengers visited the hospital - the condition of each is unknown.
Two people are yet to be accounted for.
The operator of the duck tours on the Delaware River posted the following on their website:
Our thoughts and prayers are with our Philadelphia guests, crew members and their families. We are attending to their needs first. In the interim, we have suspended our operations in Philadelphia.
My guess is that everyone involved is reluctant to commit to any fault or liability.
This isn't the first time the duck tour world has seen an accident.
Two passengers are still not accounted for in Philadelphia, but in May of '99 a terrible tragedy played out in Hot Springs, Arkansas when an amphibious craft run by another duck tour company suffered a mechanical problem which resulted in the duck sinking in near record time. Several passengers ended up caught underneath the hard canopy of the "duck" and thirteen deaths were recorded that day.
The Arkansas tragedy undoubtedly affected the duck tour business from many angles.
Only time, and forensic investigation will tell what really happened today on the Delaware River, and how this will affect the world of duck tours.
Our hearts go out to the people and businesses affected by this tragedy.