A ferry that was involved in a deadly crash in 2003 slammed into a dock in New York’s borough of Staten Island today, injuring 37 passengers in an accident authorities blamed on a mechanical problem. The Staten Island Ferry boat seemed to speed up as it approached the dock in a light rain, according to passengers and witnesses in the ferry terminal.
“It looks like it was a mechanical problem,” Janette Sadik-Khan, commissioner of the New York City Department of Transportation, said at a news conference. Commissioner Sadik-Khan said the ferry’s throttle failed to engage as it came in for a landing. That meant the crew was unable to use the engines to slow the vessel. One minute before the ferry reached the terminal, the captain sounded an alarm because he was unable to pull back on the throttle to slow down the boat.
At that time, crew members tried to move passengers to the back of the vessel, said Staten Island Ferry Chief Operating Officer James Disimone.
Fire Department officials said some passengers were being taken by ambulance to hospitals. Others were being bandaged and comforted by firefighters at the scene.
City officials were still struggling to gather information on the crash more than 90 minutes after it happened. They said there were unsure how much damage was done to the boat, which was still afloat.
The same ferry crashed into the same terminal in 2003 at full speed, killing 11 people and injuring 70.
The captain at the time was sentenced to 18 months in prison, after it was found that he had passed out due to doses of painkillers.
The Staten Island Ferry transports 20 million people a year between Staten Island and lower Manhattan.