Russian Captain Fined in Violation of “Good Samaritan Law”

Mike Schuler
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December 27, 2011

A Russian Captain has been fined for failing to stop his vessel and help passengers off the riverboat, Bulgaria, that sank while cruising on Russia’s Volga River in July, according to a report from The Moscow Times.  The captain, Yury Tuchin, was fined $4,600 but avoided jail time for his role in the incident.

The incident occured on July 10, 2011 when the riverboat, overloaded with more than 200 passengers, sank during a storm killing 122 people.  An investigation into the incident found that the ship sank after water flowed into 38 portholes that were left open.  The report also found that the vessel was heavily overloaded, a poorly trained crew and failing to inform navigation traffic controllers of the cruise were to blame.

Tuchin is the fifth person to be charged in connection to the incident.  Others included the general director of the company that rented the cruise boat, the river fleet inspector who certified that the Bulgaria was fit to sail, and two senior transport inspectors that allowed the  company to carry passengers despite the vessel lacking the appropriate license.

Yury Tuchin, who was captain of the Arbat cargo ship, pleaded guilty to not stopping to collect survivors, but said he had only done so because his ship risked crushing the lifeboats, according to the report.

The case is reminiscent of the classic Seinfeld finale, where the Seinfeld clan was sentenced to a year in prison for violating the “Good Samaritan Law” when they failed to help a man being mugged.

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