Over 50 People Hurt in Ferry Crash, 1 Critical [VIDEO]
Over 50 commuters were injured when a high speed ferry from Highlands made a hard landing into a slip at Pier 11 in Lower Manhattan and then slammed into another slip in lower Manhattan leaving large gashes in the side of the catamaran that has been involved in accidents in the past.
CNN reports that according to Coast Guard records indicate the same Seastreak ferry slammed into a New Jersey dock and tore a 2- to 3-foot gash in the starboard bow of the vessel in 2009. The same craft ran into a dock pile put a hole in the opposite side of the boat.
New York City's transportation commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan says the ferry was going about 10 to 12 knots at the time of the crash Wednesday morning. Knots and "miles per hour" are about the same speed.
Police say the crew passed alcohol breath tests given after the crash.
WABC TV reports the incident happened around 8:45 AM on board a Seastreak catamaran ferry coming from Atlantic Highlands and left at least one person with a head injury who fell down a flight of stairs. The Fire Department says emergency workers got to the scene of the Manhattan ferry crash in just over three minutes; there's a firehouse across the street.
Officials say there are 57 injuries: two critical; nine serious; 17 guarded, 29 minor. The ferry left Conner's Pier in Highlands at 8AM and was scheduled to stop at Pier 11 at 8:45AM carrying 326 passengers according to WABC TV.
According to WNBC TV, 5 crew members were among the injured.
"There was a large jolt," passenger Elizabeth Banta told CNN. "It felt like we were in a car crash. ... Several people were thrown into the air and onto the ground."
Passenger Frank McLaughlin, 46, whose home was filled with 5 feet of water in the storm, said he was thrown forward and wrenched his knee in the impact. He said some other passengers were bloodied when they banged into walls and toppled to the floor.
Seastreak President James Barker told WNBC TV that the ferry his a loading barge it was passing while docking. The National Transportation Safety Board is sending an investigation team to the scene.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg went to the scene of the crash with the police commissioner and officials from the city's Office of Emergency Management. They also were accompanied Wednesday by officials from the Red Cross, and the fire and police departments. Bloomberg walked to the edge of the pier to examine the damage.
The ferry left Conner's Pier in Highlands at 8AM and was scheduled to stop at Pier 11 at 8:45AM carrying 343 passengers according to WABC TV.
Some patients were carried out strapped to flat-board stretchers, their heads and necks immobilized. About a dozen passengers on stretchers were spread out on the dock, surrounded by emergency workers and firefighters and taken to several hospitals.
A corner of the ferry appeared to have been ripped open like a tin can. It occurred around 8:45 a.m. Wednesday at South Street.
WAITING TO GET OFF THE BOAT
The injuries seem to be centered on passengers who were on standing on the ferry's upper level in preparation for getting off at the pier.
A passenger, Ellen Foran of Neptune City said people tumbled on top of one another, hysterical and crying. Another passenger, Chris Avore, told WABC TV "Nothing seemed like it was going to be out of the ordinary," he said. "There was once or twice where I was talking with a colleague where we actually thought it was coming in a little hot near Brooklyn, where we're not used to seeing it. Then the next thing we knew, you feel the jolt and then everybody goes flying."
Another passenger, Sean Boyle told WNBC TV that the ferry seemed to head "full speed right into the pier," and said some riders were thrown down the stairs on the boat. "Everybody got jolted right out of their seats," he said.
The marine industry magazine MarineLog reported in August that the ferry's water-jet propulsion system had been replaced with a new system of propellers and rudders to save fuel costs.
STATEMENT FROM SEASTREAK
We regret to report that the SeaStreak Wall Street struck Pier 11 near Wall Street while docking this morning at approximately 8:45 a.m.
The vessel’s crew immediately initiated emergency response procedures and authorities responded quickly due to the location. A number of passengers were injured. Some were treated by first responders and some have been taken to local hospitals.
Seastreak’s incident response team is on scene. Company management is working closely with emergency responders, including the New York Fire and Police departments to treat the injured and to respond to the situation.
Our thoughts and prayers are with those that were injured. Seastreak LLC will work closely with the Federal, State and local authorities to determine the cause of the accident.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.