Saturday, May 08, 2010

Hard Docking At Staten Island Ferry Sends 17 People To Hospital

Earlier this morning, the Staten Island Ferry had a hard docking at the St. George Terminal, causing a number of injuries requiring hospitalization. Gothamist is reporting that several of those injured were in serious condition and service has been suspended until further notice. 60 people were injured, with 10 requiring further assistance or hospitalization.
The ferry that crashed was the Andrew J. Barberi, the same one involved in the 2003 accident that killed 11 people. The pilot in 2003, Richard J. Smith, had passed out at the helm because he had been using pain medication.

The Barberi was recommissioned and put back into service.

Last July, a Staten Island ferry crashed into the St. George terminal, when the boat lost power before docking. There were 15 injuries.

On Saturday morning, the terminal building was teeming with emergency crews and ambulances as stretchers were being loaded with injured passengers, according to one witness, Antonina Rose, who was in the terminal.

“I felt this big boom, the whole building was trembling,” Ms. Rose, 53, from St. George, said.

“This did not go off course — it looked like it crashed into the place where it was supposed to dock,” Ms. Rose said. She had been waiting for the 9:30 a.m. ferry to Manhattan.

Hard dockings aren't uncommon, and a recent hard docking resulted in 15 minor injuries back last year.

It looks like the throttle stuck and that sent the Barberi crashing into the pier.
The accident appeared to be the result of a mechanical failure, New York City Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan said.

The ferry's throttle failed to engage as it prepared to dock, she said, meaning the crew was unable to use the engines to slow down. The cause of the malfunction is still unknown, she said.

Coast Guard officials said the ferry suffered serious damage to its ramps and gouges in the decks above the waterline. Ramps on the pier were also damaged.

The Fire Department said 17 passengers were taken by ambulance to hospitals, but that none had life-threatening injuries.

One person complained of chest pains. Others were bandaged and comforted by firefighters at the scene.
Video provides some idea of the scope of the accident:

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