PHILADELPHIA – The mate piloting a tugboat involved in the deadly collision of a tourist boat and a barge last summer was consumed by a family emergency and on his cell phone at the time, a new government report on the crash revealed Monday.
The 34-year-old mate told a tugboat company manager he had learned that his young son had suffered a life-threatening emergency that day during a medical procedure, the National Transportation Safety Board report said. The mate, who was not identified, made or received 21 calls on his personal cell phone from the time he took the wheel at noon until the 2:37 p.m. crash.
The barge struck a disabled amphibious “duck boat” on July 7, killing two Hungarian students and plunging 35 other people into the Delaware River. The NTSB report does not analyze what caused the crash.
A federal criminal investigation is also under way. On his lawyer’s advice, the mate has not cooperated with NTSB investigators, citing his Fifth Amendment right to avoid self-incrimination.