Former tugboat pilot Matthew Devlin of Catskill, N.Y, was sentenced Tuesday, Nov 1, to a year and a day in prison for the fatal river crash in Philadelphia last year that killed two Hungarian students 16-year-old Dora Schwendtner and 20-year-old Szabolcs Prem.
The fatal collision occurred on July 7, 2010 when Devlin, who was distracted by cellphone calls due to a family emergency, pushed a huge barge through a busy shipping channel on the Delaware River running over a stalled duck boat, sinking the tour boat and throwing 37 people into the river.
Devlin had spent nearly an hour on a cellphone and laptop, and having turned down a marine radio was unable to hear Mayday calls from the duck boat and others before the July 7, 2010 crash. He had also moved to a lower wheelhouse so he could hear better, though it blocked his view of the river.
“Goodness gracious. Everybody knew this was happening but you,” U.S. District Judge Legrome Davis told Devlin. “There was plenty of time to avoid this accident,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Zauzmer said.
“Distraction is becoming the new DUI,” NTSB member Robert Sumwalt said at a June hearing on the case. “This is going to reach epidemic proportions.”