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Lawsuit Filed in Death of Pedestrian Run Over By Duck Boat in Chinatown

By Pat Loeb and Syma Chowdhry 

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- The husband of the Texas woman crushed by a duck boat while crossing a street last May is suing the tour company and the City of Philadelphia.

His lawyer says the chief goal of the lawsuit is to get the giant vehicles off Philadelphia streets.

The suit claims the vehicles avoid modern day safety regulations because it is made from 1940's chassis.

Today, attorney Robert Mongeluzzi said he chose July 7th to file the wrongful death suit on behalf of Liz Karnicki's husband, Dan, because it is the fifth anniversary of the drowning deaths of two young tourists in a duck boat accident on the Delaware River.

"Three deaths in less than five years have proven that the duck boats are dangerous on the water and dangerous on the land," he said.

Mongeluzzi showed laser reconstruction graphics indicating, he says, that duck boat drivers have a huge blind spot because of where they sit.  And he says they're distracted from their driving because they are also acting as tour guides.

He also says the boat obstructed Karnicki's view of the red light as she crossed the street.  The city is included as a defendant because, the suit charges, pedestrian signals at 11th and Arch, where Karnicki was killed, are inadequate.

Lawyer Jeffrey Goodman said, "Did not have the traffic signal she needed to let her know whether it was safe or not."

KYW Newsradio and CBS 3 Eyewitness News reached out to the city for a comment, but officials say they do not comment to the media on pending litigation.

Ride the Ducks, the company that operates the amphibious tour vehicles, issued a statement today that said, "Our thoughts and prayers remain with the Karnicki family. We also reached out to our guests affected by this tragic accident and offered counseling to them as well as to our employees.

"Safety is of paramount importance at Ride The Ducks.  Our equipment is regularly inspected to ensure a safe operation on land and water and our drivers are trained annually on safe driving procedures.  Our driver, a retired commercial airline pilot, was not tasked with delivering the narration; he was accompanied by a narrator focused on delivering the tour to our guests.  Witnesses interviewed by the police also stated that the decedent walked out against a red light, was distracted, and the driver was not at fault.  No citation was issued and the police indicated Ride The Ducks was not at fault.

"Ride The Ducks will continue to keep the safety of our guests, employees and the public the company's top priority."



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