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Tug pilot gets year in prison for fatal collision

A Philadelphia tug pilot who admitted talking on a cell phone as he steered a barge into a tour boat, killing two foreign students, was sentenced Tuesday to one year and one day in prison for misconduct of a ship operator causing death.

Matthew R. Devlin, 35, of Catskill, N.Y., pleaded guilty to the charge Aug. 1, admitting that for an extended period of time prior to the July 2010 collision on the Delaware River he was distracted by his use of a cellphone and a laptop computer to attend to personal matters.

He elected to pilot the Caribbean Sea from its lower wheelhouse, where he had significantly reduced visibility, compared with the upper wheelhouse, and he did not maintain a proper lookout or comply with other essential rules of seamanship.

The barge, The Resource, which was being towed by the Caribbean Sea, ran over a boat operated by the tourism company Ride the Ducks International LLC.

Szabolcs Prem, 20, and Dora Schwendtner, 16, passengers on the duck boat who were visiting from Hungary, were killed.

Click here for the official Coast Guard press release and click here for a local news report on the sentencing.

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