An axle repair recommended in 2013 was never made to an amphibious tour vehicle that collided with a bus on a Seattle bridge last week, a spokesman with the National Transportation and Safety Board said.
"Yesterday I mentioned that we found a failure in a component of the left front wheel. The NTSB has learned that Ride the Ducks International, which refurbished the accident vehicle in 2005, notified its customers of a potential safety related concern in 2013. They recommended repair or increased monitoring by operators," said Earl Weener, the spokesman.
It was not clear whether the Seattle franchise ever got the message, but the repairs were never made, he said.
It is also not clear when the axle broke and whether it was a factor in the fatal crash.
Brian Tracey, who heads the company that operates the duck boat, said late Sunday that he was aware of the assessment. "We are still working to understand what happened," he said.
"Ride the Ducks" will remained closed pending the NTSB investigation and an independent inspection that deems all vehicles the company operates as safe, Tracey said. He and his company are "absolutely heartbroken" over the deaths and injuries.
The accident occurred as the duck boat, with more than 30 tourists aboard, crossed the six-lane Aurora bridge, which connects downtown Seattle and the Fremont neighborhood. The bus was carrying 45 new international students and school employees on an outing to see sites in Seattle.
The five who died were students from North Seattle College. The fifth victim, a 20-year-old woman, died from her injuries Sunday, according to a spokeswoman with Harborview Medical Center.
An investigation is ongoing.