New York Harbor High Speed Ferry Crash: At Least 57 Injured, 2 Critical [UPDATE]

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January 9, 2013

NEW YORK – The passenger ferry Seastreak, which allided with a pier on the East River, N.Y., remains moored while state and federal agencies conduct investigations into the cause of the incident, Jan. 9, 2013. US Coast Guard photo

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Update: The incident occurred at the Pier 11 ferry terminal in Manhattan, N.Y. Fifty-seven injuries have been reported after the ferry Seastreak allided with the pier at 8:45 a.m. Media has reported that two people are critically injured.

Both the Coast Guard and NTSB have launched investigations.  NTSB marine safety investigator Morgan Turrell is leading a team of 12 as the investigator-in-charge.

On-scene weather at the time of incident was reported as five-knot winds with water temperature at 43 degrees F. The sea-state was calm, with wave height at less than one foot according to the USCG.

Earlier: By Barbara Goldberg

A commuter ferry crashed into a pier in lower Manhattan early Wednesday, injuring 57 people, one critically, the New York City Police Department said.

Passengers lying on stretchers littered the pier near South Street Seaport, attended to by firefighters and rescue workers who rushed to the scene of the 8:43 a.m. (1343 GMT) hard landing.

“People were thrown into the air and onto the ground,” passenger Elizabeth Banta told CNN. “There were definitely many people on the ground who were not moving.”

Some of the injured were taken to the hospital, while others were treated at the scene, she said.

A police department spokesperson said one of the 57 people injured appeared to be in critical condition.

“The boat was backing up and hit something and that’s when everything went crazy,” said one witness, a construction worker who declined to be named, who was working nearby when the 400-passenger ferry slammed into the pier.

nyc ferry crash allision uscg
Looking through the massive hole in the starboard bow of the ferry which crashed this morning. Image; USCG

The National Transportation Safety Board tweeted that its investigators were gathering information about the cause of the crash.

Television images showed damage to the side of one end of the ferry, called Seastreak Wall Street, which departed from Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey.

In October 2003, a Staten Island ferry crashed into a maintenance pier, killing 11 people and injuring dozens more, and the same vessel, the Andrew J. Barberi, was involved in a second accident in May 2010 that injured around 40 people.

The ferry pilot in the 2003 crash and his supervisor were sentenced to more than a year in prison each for their roles in the accident. The pilot, Richard Smith, had passed out at the helm.

The ferry that crashed on Wednesday is run by Seastreak, a privately owned company that also holds the Interlake Steamship Company, Mormac Marine Group, Inc., and Moran Towing Co., the largest tug and barge operator on the East and Gulf Coasts, according to the company’s website.

(Editing by Barbara Goldberg, Jeffrey Benkoe and Nick Zieminski)

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