Ride the Ducks faces higher state penalty for fatal crash, but still not the maximum | KUOW News and Information

Ride the Ducks faces higher state penalty for fatal crash, but still not the maximum

May 3, 2016

The penalty that Ride the Ducks of Seattle faces over a fatal crash just went up.

The company had already agreed to a proposed $220,000 settlement with the state. But the Utilities and Transportation Commission decided that wasn't enough. It's proposing $308,000.

A Ride the Ducks tour vehicle crashed on the Aurora Bridge last year, killing five international students. The investigation that followed showed 463 violations -- including 159 critical to public safety.

The transportation commission says a bigger penalty is needed because Ride the Ducks showed an insufficient approach to public safety. Even so, the commission isn't charging as much as it could have, a maximum of $460,000.

Commission spokesperson Amanda Maxwell says some problems, like poor record-keeping, earned lower penalties.

Maxwell: "When issuing penalties we really have to balance the threats to public safety with the number of violations that we found, and there is a matrix that they use to determine penalty amounts. So they imposed the maximum for the critical violations."

The company has five days to formally agree. A Ride the Ducks attorney said in a statement he's satisfied with the new settlement.

The company and city of Seattle also face private lawsuits from survivors of the crash.