No holidays for parents of boat dead
Mother’s Day was celebrated Sunday in Hungary, but for two of its natives, the day was filled with tremendous pain and loss. For Maria Prem and Aniko Takacs, whose respective son and daughter drowned in the 2010 duck-boat accident on the Delaware River, it’s their second Mother’s Day without their children.
Mother's Day was celebrated Sunday in Hungary, but for two of its natives, the day was filled with tremendous pain and loss.
For Maria Prem and Aniko Takacs, whose respective son and daughter drowned in the 2010 duck-boat accident on the Delaware River, it's their second Mother's Day without their children.
"We don't really have any more holidays; we don't have any Christmas; we don't have anything anymore," Prem said Sunday. "There's just nothing."
She spoke in Hungarian with reporters with the families' attorney, Peter Ronai, acting as translator.
Ironically, unbeknown to the families, the attorneys, and the media they met with, a Ride the Ducks vessel stalled about 1:15 p.m. Sunday in the Delaware, about two hours before the news conference. Twenty-six people and two crew members were on board. The operators said they were investigating the cause of the accident.
"The boat was towed within approximately four minutes to the shoreline by RTD's quick-response boat," read a statement sent out by the company.
"Like any other mechanical vehicle, vessels may sometimes stall," said Greg Blumenthal, the local general manager for Ride the Ducks. "At no time were passengers in harm's way."
Prem and Takacs are in Philadelphia for the start of Monday's federal-court trial to determine liability in the case. K-Sea Transportation, of East Brunswick, N.J., and Ride the Ducks Inc., of Norcross, Ga., filed suit to limit their exposure to nothing more than the value of their salvaged vessels. They spoke with reporters in the Center City offices of their lawyers.
Dora Schwendtner, 16, and Szabolcs Prem, 20, were on a stranded duck boat with 37 other people when it was struck by a sludge barge pushed by a tugboat in July 2010. The two Hungarian youths, who were part of a tourist group, perished in the crash; 26 others were injured. Investigators found that the tugboat mate was on his cellphone and a computer while he operated the vessel. He is serving a one-year prison sentence for involuntary manslaughter.
Bob Mongeluzzi, one of the attorneys, said the legal team will have to prove that managers at both companies had knowledge of negligence before it occurred in order to remove the financial limitations on lawsuits.
In the meantime, he said, it could be five to eight years before a resolution to the case is reached.
The family laid floral wreaths on Sunday and are expected to stay in town until Wednesday.
The families expressed frustration with the case, particularly both companies, who Peter Schwendtner said have "never apologized to this day [nor] taken any blame whatsoever."
Added Maria Prem: "To say that my son's life is worth the value of a ship doesn't make sense. You can build another ship but I can't have another Szabolcs." n
Contact Regina Medina at 215-854-5985 or email@example.com or follow on Twitter @ReginaMedina.