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The parents of a young woman killed earlier this spring when a sightseeing duck boat ran over her at an intersection are calling for the passage of a new law aimed at making the amphibious vehicles and other tour buses safer.
Twenty-eight-year-old Allison Warmuth was on a motorbike stopped at a red light, but also in the blind spot of a sightseeing duck boat on April 30. When the light turned green, the huge vehicle rolled over her, killing her and seriously injuring her passenger.
On Wednesday, just a month and a half after her death, Allison's parents, Ivan and Martha Warmuth, went to the State House to advocate for a bill aimed at improving safety for the sightseeing vehicles.
"This was a preventable accident," Ivan Warmuth said. "My daughter did nothing wrong. She was exactly following the rules of the road. But the accident was the result of systemic flaws in the design, the safety equipment and operation of these vehicles," he added.
The family reached out to Boston Duck Tours after the tragedy, Martha Warmuth said. They requested the company add a second employee to each tour to provide historical narration, allowing the driver to concentrate solely on operating the vehicle in a safe manner.
Martha Warmuth said the company's response — to hold off on adding the second employee until the investigation is complete — was very unsatisfactory.
"It's obvious that these vehicles are unsafe, so to continue to have that situation with distracted drivers is a real problem," she said.
The bill the Warmuths are supporting would mandate that all sightseeing tours have a separate tour guide, who is not driving the vehicle. The bill also calls for the installation of blind-spot cameras and proximity sensors on amphibious vehicles. Sen. William Brownsberger (D-Belmont) says he views the proposed changes as industry best practices.
"Some operators already do have separation of duties between driving and giving tours. And some duck boat operators in other cities do have the cameras installed," Brownsberger said. "So this is just putting industry best practices in place. And we believe with these practices, there's no reason to believe that these can't be a perfectly safe presence on the streets of Boston, and in other places around the state, by the way. There's some down on the Cape and maybe others."
While not speaking specifically to the proposed bill, Boston Duck Tours issued a written statement Wednesday saying safety has always been the No. 1 priority for the company. It went on to say since the tragedy, the company has already installed a new camera on each duck boat, which will complement the eight existing mirrors to address any blind spots.
The company also plans to add sensory equipment to the front and back of the vehicles in the near term.
Meanwhile, a spokesman for the Suffolk district attorney's office says the crash reconstruction report from Boston police is still pending, so a decision on any charges related to the crash has not been made.
This segment aired on June 15, 2016.
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