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Wash. Regulators Suspend Ride The Ducks Pending Inspection

Ted S. Warren

Citing a lack of confidence, state regulators took emergency action Monday to suspend Ride the Ducks tours in Seattle. The move follows last week’s deadly crash involving one of the company’s amphibious vehicles.

The Washington’s Utilities and Transportation Commission met in a rare emergency session. The agency’s director of transportation safety is Dave Pratt. He told commissioners he plans to file a formal complaint against Ride the Ducks of Seattle alleging it failed to fix an axle issue identified by the vehicle’s manufacturer.

“Preliminary indication is that it was an axle issue that might have contributed to the cause of that accident and early indications are we’ve learned was that this company has not made repairs of their axles on any of their vehicles. We need to verify that and understand what it means,” said Pratt.

In a statement, the owner of Ride the Ducks of Seattle says the company is “working to understand what happened” and is cooperating fully with investigators. The company had already voluntarily parked its fleet. State inspectors plan to conduct a thorough examination of each of the Duck vehicles--a process that could take a couple of weeks.

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy as well as the Washington State legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia." Prior to joining the Northwest News Network, Austin worked as a television reporter in Seattle, Portland and Boise. Austin is a graduate of Garfield High School in Seattle and Connecticut College in New London, Connecticut. Austin’s reporting has been recognized with awards from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors, Public Radio News Directors Incorporated and the Society of Professional Journalists.