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Another lawsuit filed over last year’s deadly Ride the Ducks crash

The family of an international student killed when a Ride the Ducks tourist vehicle crashed into a charter bus on the Aurora Bridge last year has sued over the deadly collision.

Japanese national Mami Sato’s lawsuit names as defendants Ride the Ducks of Seattle, and its Atlanta-based licensee, Ride the Ducks International, which refurbished and sold to the local excursion company the “Duck boat” that crashed into the bus Sato was riding in.

The wrongful-death complaint, filed in King County Superior Court by Seattle attorney James S. Rogers on behalf of Sato’s family in Japan, is among multiple lawsuits filed over the deadly crash.

It also names as defendants Eric Bishop, the driver of the ill-fated Duck vehicle, and the city of Seattle and state of Washington, claiming both governments have repeatedly failed to address the Aurora Bridge’s longtime safety issues that the suit contends contributed to the accident.

Sato, 36, whom the lawsuit describes as an accomplished athlete who arrived in Seattle to study accounting just four days before her death, was among five North Seattle College international students killed in the Sept. 24 crash. Dozens of other students in the college’s charter bus and tourists in the Duck were injured.

The National Transportation Safety Board determined during a preliminary investigation that a defective axle on the Duck caused the crash. The state’s Utilities and Transportation Commission, which regulates charter buses and tourist vehicles in Washington, also found hundreds of safety violations against the Seattle Ducks’ firm. The state imposed a $308,000 fine and ordered the company to address all of its violations.

Ten of the company’s 20 amphibious Duck vehicles have since been allowed to return to service in Seattle, but they now take a different route that avoids travel over the narrow Aurora Bridge.

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