NTSB report indicates likely cause of deadly 'Ride the Ducks' crash on Aurora Bridge

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NTSB Report Indicates Likely Cause of Deadly Duck Boat Crash


OLYMPIA, Wash. -- New information from the National Transportation Safety Board indicates a front axle failure is likely to blame for that deadly accident between a Ride the Duck amphibious and a charter bus in September.

The crash happened on the busy Aurora Bridge and killed five people.

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The NTSB said the left front axle on boat 6 did have an earlier modification -– but it may not have been part of the 2013 service bulletin from the parent company.

See photos from the scene of the tragedy:

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NTSB report indicates likely cause of deadly 'Ride the Ducks' crash on Aurora Bridge
A Ride the Ducks tour bus that was involved in a crash with several other vehicles can be seen behind an ambulance as officials respond, Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015 in Seattle. Seattle fire officials say two people have been killed and numerous others critically injured in the crash that happened on a bridge over Lake Union. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
A victim from a crash involving a Ride the Ducks tour bus and several other vehicles is loaded into an ambulance, Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015 in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Emergency personnel respond at the scene of a crash involving a charter bus and amphibious tour vehicle Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015 in Seattle. Seattle fire officials say two people have been killed and numerous others critically injured in the crash that happened on a bridge over Lake Union. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
A Ride the Ducks tour bus that was involved in a crash with several other vehicles can be seen behind an ambulance as officials respond, Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015 in Seattle. Seattle fire officials say two people have been killed and numerous others critically injured in the crash that happened on a bridge over Lake Union. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
People with bandaged arms stand next to a bus that was involved in the crash with a Ride the Ducks tour bus and several other vehicles, Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015 in Seattle. Seattle fire officials say two people have been killed and numerous others critically injured in the crash that happened on a bridge over Lake Union. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
People with bandaged arms stand next to a bus that was involved in the crash with a Ride the Ducks tour bus and several other vehicles, Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015 in Seattle. Seattle fire officials say two people have been killed and numerous others critically injured in the crash that happened on a bridge over Lake Union. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
REMOVES POOL DESIGNATION - A victim from a crash involving a charter bus and amphibious tour vehicle is loaded into an ambulance, Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015 in Seattle. Seattle fire officials say two people have been killed and numerous others critically injured in the crash that happened on a bridge over Lake Union. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Emergency vehicles surround the site of a deadly crash between a charter bus and an amphibious tour vehicle in Seattle on Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015. Seattle fire officials say two people have been killed and numerous others critically injured in the crash that happened on a bridge over Lake Union. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Emergency vehicles surround the site of a deadly crash between a charter bus and an amphibious tour vehicle in Seattle on Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015. Seattle fire officials say two people have been killed and numerous others critically injured in the crash that happened on a bridge over Lake Union. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Officers investigate the scene of a crash between a tour bus and a tourist duck boat on the Aurora Bridge in Seattle, Washington on September 24, 2015. At least four people were killed and several were critically injured when a bus collided with a tour vehicle on a bridge in the US West Coast city of Seattle, officials said. AFP PHOTO/ MARK RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
Firefighters remove a body from the scene of a crash between a tour bus and a tourist duck boat on the Aurora Bridge in Seattle, Washington on September 24, 2015. At least four people were killed and several were critically injured when a bus collided with a tour vehicle (Duck Boat) on a bridge in the US West Coast city of Seattle AFP PHOTO / MARK RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
Firefighters remove a body from the scene of a crash between a tour bus and a tourist duck boat on the Aurora Bridge in Seattle, Washington on September 24, 2015. At least four people were killed and several were critically injured when a bus collided with a tour vehicle (Duck Boat) on a bridge in the US West Coast city of Seattle AFP PHOTO / MARK RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
Firefighters remove a body from the scene of a crash between a tour bus and a tourist duck boat on the Aurora Bridge in Seattle, Washington on September 24, 2015. At least four people were killed and several were critically injured when a bus collided with a tour vehicle (Duck Boat) on a bridge in the US West Coast city of Seattle AFP PHOTO / MARK RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
A charter bus, left, and an amphibious, military-style tour vehicle remain on the Aurora Bridge after colliding in a deadly crash involving several vehicles Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
A passenger bus at left and a Ride the Ducks tour bus, center-right, are shown following a crash, Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015 in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
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The report came out after a hearing at the Washington State Utilities and Transportation Commission where the regulatory agency discussed their progress into its own investigation.

The NTSB's preliminary report said the driver of boat 6 said he heard a loud bang and then he lost control, crossing the centerline and tearing i to the side of a charter bus going in the opposite direction on the bridge.

"We still have a sense of urgency in getting the 10 truck ducks up and running," said Pat Buchanan, a Ducks attorney. "They have been inspected."

The UTC suspended the company's license shortly after the crash. Since then state regulators have been asking tough questions about the company's safety practices since NTSB investigators determined the front axle of the boat sheered off.

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"How well do they maintain those vehicles?" said Dave Pratt with the UTC. "How well do they service them? How well do they train their drivers?"

An October 2013 bulletin from Ride the Ducks International, the company that converts the boats into tourist vehicles, recommended safety modifications to the front axles. The state and federal investigators are trying to determine if the Seattle company ever received those fixes.

The NTSB report reveals that duck 6 did have axle modifications, but investigators said those were not associated with the 2013 bulletin.

The commission did not make any decision during Tuesday's hearing about the future of the Ducks.

The state is expected to present its investigation by December 15.

The NTSB's final report may not be out for a year.

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