On Wednesday, January 9, 2013, 321 passengers joined five crew members as they boarded the Seastreak Wall Street in Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey, and headed for Lower Manhattan. Little did they know that they would find themselves crashing into Pier 11 at 8:43 a.m.
Commuters were tossed around like rag dolls, many crashing into windows and chairs and thrown on top of those around them. There were reportedly 57 people injured, with two in critical condition. The Seastreak Wall Street now has a large gash in its right front side after crashing into the pier at 10 to 12 knots. All of the crew members passed breathalyzer tests, and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is currently investigating the incident.
This latest ferry crash brings back memories of ferry accidents in the past 10 years, some of which resulted in fatalities.
2003 Staten Island Ferry Disaster
Anyone who lived or worked around New York City in 2003 likely remembers the Staten Island Ferry Disaster, which took place on October 15 and is reported to be one of the city's worst ferry accidents in 98 years. The Andrew J. Barberi crashed into the St. George pier at 3:20 p.m., killing 11 of the 1,500 people on board and injuring 70. After the crash, the pilot, Assistant Capt. Richard J. Smith, fled the scene to his home, where he tried to kill himself by slitting his wrists and shooting himself twice in the chest with a pellet gun. Smith survived, however, and it was determined that he passed out at the wheel right before the crash. He received 18 months in jail for manslaughter.
August 2009 Ferry Crash
The ferry involved in today's incident, the Seastreak Wall Street, was also involved in an incident back in August 2009, when it crashed into the pier at East 35th Street, which tore a hole in the starboard bow. Thankfully, there were no fatalities or injuries reported.
January 2010 Ferry Crash
Another Seastreak vessel hit a sandbar near Shrewsbury, New Jersey, on January 7, 2010. This time, it was the Seastreak New Jersey ferry, carrying 50 passengers. Ice was deemed to be the culprit.
May 2010 Ferry Crash
On May 8, 2010, the Andrew J. Barberi ferry, the same one from the 2003 crash, slammed into the dock at 9:20 a.m. with 252 commuters on board. It was going approximately 5 knots when it hit the dock, sending people crashing on top of each other and ripping holes in the hull. Donald Russell, the ferry captain, was deemed not at fault, as the crash was the result of "failure in [the ferry's] propulsion system." There were reportedly 37 people injured but luckily, no fatalities.
After the 2010 crash, NTSB Chairman Deborah A. P. Hersman released a statement that undoubtedly was intended to ease the minds of those who ride ferries across the city. She explained, "The good news is that no lives were lost and our investigation showed positive safety improvements following the 2003 accident, in particular the NYC DOT Ferry Division implemented an industry-leading safety management system."
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