During the morning rush hour on January 9th, a high-speed commuter ferry crash left 85 injured. The vessel was traveling from New Jersey across the Hudson River, when it plowed into a dock at Pier 11 in Manhattan’s financial district.
According to the New York Times, the boat approached the dock just before 8:45 a.m. As commuters stood up and waited for the vessel to dock, the ferry crashed – leaving dozens of people injured. The crash occurred at a time in which commuters rely on ferry service more than ever, as damage to rail lines from Hurricane Sandy continues to impact the New York City area.
Significant Injuries Sustained in Ferry Accident
Several news agencies gathered first-hand accounts from ferry passengers who described the shock of the boat crash and the injuries they sustained. Ashley Furman told CNN that she had been making small talk with other commuters as they waited for the ferry to come to a stop, when “it all went black.” Furman woke up “in pain and on the floor with the wind knocked out of her,” several feet from where she had originally been standing. She described crushing pain. Steve Mann told ABC News that he had been “half asleep” on the second level of the ferry and was awakened by “a really loud crash.” When he managed to collect himself, he realized that he was nearly 10 feet from where he had originally been sitting.
While Furman and Mann suffered minor injuries, other passengers found themselves bleeding and disoriented. The New York Times interviewed Sheila Carson, another passenger, just after the accident. Carson had been on the lower level of the ferry when it hit the dock. The force of the crash propelled her into a table, which injured her neck and shoulder, and left her surrounded by blood and broken glass. The accident left two people in critical condition, including a man who fell down a flight of stairs and hit his head. Nine other passengers required treatment for serious wounds.
What Caused the Ferry Crash?
The cause of the accident was not immediately clear, although the boat had been traveling at above 10 miles per hour just before the crash, which is notably faster than its typical speed in the process of docking. The city’s transportation commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan described the vessel’s impact as “a hard landing.”
Seastreak Ferry operated the boat on the day of the crash, and the company typically provides daily services from New Jersey into Lower Manhattan. The chairperson of Seastreak, James Barker, indicated that the company’s priorities lay with the injured victims, and that he had no idea what had caused the crash. Barker also described the boat as the “greenest ferry in America,” citing its new engines installed to reduce harmful air emissions. The ferry passed inspection in July 2012.
While the ferry did not have voice data recorder (or “black box”) on board, investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) planned to conduct interviews with the captain and crew, all of whom passed breathalyzer tests for drugs and alcohol.