Alcohol, weather not factors in ferry crash

Jan. 9, 2013 at 11:49 PM
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NEW YORK, Jan. 9 (UPI) -- National Transportation Safety Board investigators arrived in New York Wednesday to begin their probe of a ferry crash that injured nearly 60 people.

NTSB board member Robert Sumwalt said investigators will seek to "gather perishable evidence" in the Wednesday crash of the Seastreak Wall Street ferry while docking in Lower Manhattan in New York.

"Tomorrow will be the first full day of our investigation and it will be a full day," Sumwalt told reporters. He said investigators plan to look at the ship, its crew, company management and regulatory compliance, The (Newark, N.J.) Star-Ledger reported.

U.S. Coast Guard spokesman Eric Swanson said weather was not a factor in the accident and all five crew members have passed alcohol tests, the newspaper said.

A spokesman for the New York Fire Department said the cause of the crash at Pier 11, at South Street and Gouverneur Lane, was not immediately known, The New York Times reported. The National Transportation Safety Board in Washington said it was sending a 12-member "go-team" to investigate.

Several people were taken off the ferry, operated by Seastreak on flatboards with their heads and necks immobilized, the Times said. Coast Guard spokesman Charles Rowe said early reports indicated there were 326 passengers and five crew members onboard.

Seastreak runs a daily service from Atlantic Highlands and Conners Highlands in New Jersey to Lower Manhattan. The Times said it can carry several hundred passengers.

The Times said the ferry was approaching the dock with many people standing and lined up getting ready to land. Dozens rushed to get off the ferry after the impact, the newspaper said, and the most severely injured toppled down stairs, though none were thrown into the water.

The ferry is 140 feet long and 30 feet wide, the Times report said. WABC-TV, New York, reported a large gash was torn on the starboard side of the craft, which can carry 400 passengers.

"Nothing seemed like it was going to be out of the ordinary," passenger Chris Avore told WABC. "There was once or twice where I was talking with a colleague where we actually thought it was coming in a little hot near Brooklyn, where we're not used to seeing it. Then the next thing we knew, you feel the jolt and then everybody goes flying."

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