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Suspended after deadly crash, Philadelphia 'duck boat' tours resume

By the CNN Wire Staff
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Two people died last summer in a crash
  • "Ride the Ducks" tours will resume on Thursday

Philadelphia (CNN) -- A tour using amphibious boats on the Delaware River in Philadelphia, suspended after a fatal crash last year, will resume on Thursday with new safety procedures, the company said.

Two people died in July when a 250-foot sludge barge pushed by a tugboat overran a disabled 33-foot "Ride the Ducks" tour boat on the river, plunging the amphibious vessel and its 35 passengers and two crew members underwater.

Dora Schwendtner, 16, and Szabolcs Prem, 20, drowned. Both were student tourists from Hungary. Ten other passengers suffered minor injuries, according to a National Transportation Safety Board report released several months later.

Ride the Ducks suspended its Philadelphia operation in the wake of the crash.

"Over the past several months, the city, the Tri-state Maritime Safety Association and the U.S. Coast Guard have worked closely with Ride the Ducks to ensure that when they begin offering tours again, every measure has been considered and will be followed to provide for the safety of Philadelphians and our visitors," Richard Negrin, the city's deputy mayor and managing director, said in a statement Tuesday.

Some of the new procedures include that Ride the Ducks will deploy a "marine response coordinator" boat "to quickly and safely tow a disabled vehicle," the statement said. In addition, in extreme heat, vehicles will be monitored for problems and attended to if they arise.

In addition, all Ride the Ducks vessels will be equipped with a system to improve visibility of the vessels on radar, according to the statement. Captains and deckhands will also undergo increased training procedures.