Today, a court in Hungary sentenced the captain (master) of the Viking Sigyn river cruise ship to five years and six months in jail for his negligence in causing the sinking of a Hungarian sightseeing boat, the Hableany (“Mermaid”), on the Danube River during the evening of May 29, 2019.
Hungarian Judge Dr. Leona Németh found that Captain Chaplinsky was negligent in the operation of the Viking river cruise ship which overtook and ran over the smaller sightseeing boat as the two vessels proceeded at night under the Margit Bridge on the Danube River in central Budapest.
At the time of the collision, there were 33 tourists and 2 Hungarian tour guides aboard the sightseeing boat. Twenty-five South Korean tourists and the two tour guides died. The body of one tourist could not be located.
There were no reports of injury on the Viking river ship (called a “longship” by Viking). The Washington Post‘s coverage of the collision contained a video of the incident.
Captain Chaplinsky was found guilty of “endangering water transport leading to a deadly mass accident,” according to the Budapest judge who also acquitted the captain of “failing to provide help.”
Before the verdict, Captain Chaplinsky, now 68 years old, voiced his”immense regret” for the fatalities. He reportedly stated before he was sentenced: “I can’t rest even for a minute because of the memories of this terrible tragedy. I can’t sleep at night because of them.”
Captain Chaplinsky has been in police custody since the collision, including being remanded to house arrest in Hungary since 2020, according to MRT. The judge ordered the time Chaplinsky has already served to count toward his five-and-a-half-year sentence. This will result in jail time of less than two years.
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Image credit: Master Yuriy Chaplinsky – Condé Nast Traveler / Deborah Dunn; Viking Sigyn collision – screengrab from ATV Magyarország YouTube.