Pilot admits guilt in fatal Philly duck boat crash

A New York man has admitted guilt in a deadly boat accident on Philadelphia’s Delaware River last summer.

Matthew Devlin pleaded guilty to one count of misconduct of a ship operator causing death in the duck boat accident on the Delaware July 7, 2010. Devlin was piloting a vessel towing a barge when the barge ran over a “Ride the Ducks” tour boat — killing two Hungarian tourists.

Devlin was distracted from his job because he was using his cell phone and laptop.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Zauzmer said he understands Devlin was distracted because his son was in danger after having surgery.

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“His son had surgery that morning. They were told by the doctors that his son went without oxygen for eight minutes. And so I think any parent would legitimately be very troubled by that,” Zauzmer said. “What he needed to do, obviously, was turn over his duties to the captain of the ship and not try to deal with two things at the same time.”

Devlin’s lawyer Frank DeSimone said his client was distracted because of his son’s medical condition.

“The nightmare of all nightmares, he gets a call from his wife who says, ‘They can’t wake our son up from the anesthesia. He’s been oxygen-deprived for 8 minutes.’ When he found out his child was in danger of death or brain damage, he just wasn’t thinking clearly,” DeSimone said. “He has suffered because of this too. He dreams about this every night.”

Devlin is scheduled for sentencing in November.

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