'Ride The Ducks' owner apologizes to victims of Aurora Bridge crash, promises extra safety measures

SEATTLE -- Poetic words spilled out into a garden Friday at North Seattle College, where five benches are now dedicated to the five students killed in the Aurora Bridge crash.

North Seattle College students relived the moment a Ride the Ducks amphibious tour vehicle crashed into their charter bus on the bridge one year ago.

Survivor Mazda Hutapea told Q13 News on Friday that she is physically healed but mentally she is still not ready to face the fact that she was in the tragic accident.

And on the eve of the crash anniversary, Ride The Ducks of Seattle owner Brian Tracey got emotional about the tragedy.

“I feel horrible,” Tracey said.

Federal investigators say an axle on the duck vehicle sheared off, causing the vehicle to lose control, cross into oncoming lanes and slam into the side of a charter bus.

“I wish they knew how sorry I am that any of them have to go through this,” Tracey said.

Tracey is now facing 23 lawsuits and counting.

“Most aggressive attorneys will get to trial first and get the lion’s share of the money. I don’t want it to happen, I want everybody to be treated fairly,” Tracey said.

He can’t undo the past but Tracey says he’s committed to making sure it never happens again.

Tracey hopes to retrofit all 10 of his duck vehicles in operation with cameras by the end of the year.

“This thing we are doing is remarkable, it has a 360-degree view around the duck,” Tracey said.

His command center will get real-time images of all the vehicles on the road and the driver will get a warning noise with a red light if anyone is close to the tour vehicle.

Tracey also says there are daily multiple inspections of the tour boats.

“I want to make sure these are the safest vehicles on the road,” Tracey said.

But for many at the memorial, the changes are too late.

“We are standing here remembering them because we don’t have a chance to see them anymore,” survivor Phuong Dinh said.

Some victims wish the company was no longer in business but Tracey emphasizes he wants to help everyone affected.

He hopes to get all plaintiffs in one room with his attorneys so they can compensate all the families affected and not leave anyone out.