In NEW YORK CITY, a high-speed
ferry loaded with hundreds of commuters from
New Jersey crashed into a dock in lower
Manhattan on Wednesday during the morning
rush hour, seriously injuring 11 people,
including one who suffered a severe head
wound falling down a stairwell.
Passengers were hurled to the deck or launched into walls by
the impact, which came after the catamaran Seastreak
Wall Street slowed following a routine trip
across New York Bay and past the Statue of
While pulling into the
dock, the boat hit the dock, causing
passengers to topple on top of each other.
crash ripped open a small part of the
hull like an aluminum can. The
accident happened at 8:45
a.m. on Wednesday, at a pier near the South Street
Seaport, at Manhattan's southern tip.
87 people suffered minor injuries, and for
nearly two hours paramedics treated bruised
and dazed passengers on the pier.
Firefighters carried several patients on
flat-board stretchers and wheelchairs.
The cause of the crash
was under investigation. The ferry, built in
2003, had recently undergone a major
overhaul that gave it new engines and a new
propulsion system, but officials said it was
too soon to tell whether they played any
role in what happened.
James Barker, the
chairman of the ferry's owner, Seastreak
LLC, said at a news conference hours after
the crash it was "a terrible day for all of
"We are simply shocked
and stunned that this happened," he said,
adding that the company would work with
investigators from the National
Transportation Safety Board to determine
what went wrong. "Our priority continues to
be the people who are injured."
About 330 passengers and
crew members were aboard the ferry, which
had arrived from Atlantic Highlands, a part
of the Jersey Shore still struggling to
recover from Superstorm Sandy. Passenger
Frank McLaughlin, whose home was filled with
5 feet of water in the late October storm,
said he was thrown forward and wrenched his
"We come in and do this
every day, and so it just kind of glides
in," he said. "It came in hard, and it was
just a huge impact as we hit."
Some passengers were
bloodied when they banged into walls and
toppled to the floor, he said.
New York City's
transportation commissioner, Janette Sadik-Khan,
said the ferry was coming in at 10 to 12
knots, or about 12 to 14 mph, when it struck
one slip and then hit a second.
After the impact, the
boat was able to dock normally. Wertz, who
saw the crash from the dock, said passengers
raced off once the ramp was down.
"I think people just
wanted to get the heck off the boat as soon
as they could," she said.
Police said the boat's
crew passed alcohol breath tests given after
the crash. Crew members also took drug
tests, the results of which weren't
Officials identified the
captain as Jason Reimer, an experienced
seaman. In a 2004 profile in Newsday, Reimer
said he had joined Seastreak as a deckhand
in 1997 and became a captain three years
later at age 23. Barker called him "a great
The NTSB said it had yet
to interview the captain.
The Seastreak Wall Street
has been in minor accidents before. Coast
Guard records said the ferry hit a cluster
of fender piles while docking in 2010,
punching a small hole in the ship's skin. In
2009, it suffered another tear on the bow
after another minor docking collision. No
one was injured in either of those mishaps.
The naval architecture
firm that designed the reconfiguration,
Incat Crowther, said in an August news
release that the ferry's water-jet
propulsion system had been replaced with a
new system of propellers and rudders to save
fuel costs and cut carbon dioxide pollution
in half. Barker said the overhaul made it
"the greenest ferry in America."
The hull was reworked,
and the boat was made 15 metric tons
lighter. At top speed, the ferry travels at
around 35 knots, or 40 mph.
Seastreak spokesman Bob
Dorn, asked whether the work had hurt the
ferry's maneuverability or caused pilots any
problems, said it would be up to the NTSB to
determine if the new equipment played any
The ferry accident
happened just a few hours before a
200-foot-tall crane collapsed onto a
building under construction near the East
River waterfront in Queens, injuring seven
Such ferry accidents
happen every few years in New York. In 2003,
11 people were killed when a Staten Island
Ferry crashed into a pier on Staten Island
after its pilot passed out at the wheel.
Three people were badly hurt and about 40
were injured when the same ferry hit the
same pier in 2010 because of a mechanical