A court in Hungary has sentenced the captain of the Viking Sigyn River cruiser to five years and six months in prison for negligently causing the sinking of a Hungarian excursion boat, the Hableany (“Mermaid”), on the Danube River in 2019. The judge found that Captain Chaplinsky had acted negligently in the operation of the river cruise ship, which collided with and ran over the smaller excursion boat as they passed under a bridge in Budapest at night. The collision resulted in the death of 25 South Korean tourists and the two Hungarian tour guides.
Captain Chaplinsky expressed his regret about the deaths, stating that he cannot rest or sleep at night because of the memories of the tragedy. He has been in police custody since the collision and has been under house arrest in Hungary since 2020. The judge ordered that the time Chaplinsky has already served count toward his prison sentence, resulting in a sentence of less than two years.
The incident received coverage in The Washington Post, which included a video of the collision. Captain Chaplinsky was found guilty of endangering water transport leading to a fatal mass accident, but he was acquitted of failure to provide assistance.