Washington State Ferry Rail Jumper Fined

The Washington State Ferry 'Kaleetan'. Photo: Creative Commons
The Washington State Ferry ‘Kaleetan’. Photo: Creative Commons

A passenger of a Washington State Ferry has been fined $5,000 for intentionally jumping overboard from the vessel prior to its departure from the Bremerton ferry terminal.

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, on March 21, an adult male passenger aboard the Washington State Ferry Kaleetan intentionally jumped overboard, sustained significant injuries and was recovered by ferry crewmembers aboard a rescue boat.

Rail jumping, or an attempt to enter the water without permission of the vessel’s captain, is subject to a maximum civil penalty of $30,000.

The Coast Guard Authorization Act of 1998 amended 46 USC 2302(a) by adding “or interfering with the safe operation of a vessel, so as to endanger” the life, limb or property of a person. While the previous version of the statute only allowed an operator to be charged, the amendment provided the Coast Guard the ability to pursue a civil penalty against any individual that interfered with the safe operation of a vessel.

“Crewmembers are responsible for passenger safety, and in this case, their attention was diverted away from the safe operation of the vessel,” said Chief Warrant Officer Brian Hennessy, a member of the investigations and inspections division at Sector Puget Sound. “Fortunately for the person in the water, Washington State Ferry crewmembers are highly trained, and were able to swiftly recover the person, while keeping the remaining passengers safe.”