Ferry System Fires Elwha Captain
By Dee Norton
Seattle Times Staff Reporter
Saturday, August 10, 1996
The skipper who took the state ferry Elwha 15 miles off its designated route
in the San Juan Islands, nearly running it aground, was fired yesterday by the Washington State Ferries.
An investigation by the ferry system following the July 25 incident found that Capt. Charles Petersen violated four sections of the system's Code of Conduct.
Those sections deal with alcohol or drug use, neglect of duties, failure to follow applicable regulations, and testing positive for alcohol or drugs while at work although not under their influence.
Evidence of marijuana use by Petersen was found during a urine test after the July 25 incident, according to the Coast Guard. Petersen has been on paid administrative leave since the incident.
Under the Code of Conduct, a positive test for illegal drugs is grounds for immediate firing, a system spokeswoman said.
Petersen "used extremely poor judgment, putting his vessel, passengers and crew in jeopardy" when he took the Elwha "into an area where he did not possess pilotage or experience (local knowledge)" for operating a vessel of that size, said Princess Jackson-Smith, the ferry system's public-affairs director.