During the morning rush hour on January 9, 2013 a packed ferry traveling from New Jersey to Manhattan crashed into a dock at Pier 11 in lower Manhattan, with reports of up to 85 passengers. The ferry was preparing to dock, with passengers standing and preparing to disembark, when the ferry crashed into the dock at a high rate of speed knocking many passengers off of their feet and into each other.
A spokesman for the Coast Guard indicated that there were 326 passengers and 5 crew members on the ferry. This ferry, which is operated by Seastreak, has a reported capacity of 400 passengers. At least two passengers suffered critical head injuries and a number of other passengers were removed from the ferry on backboards and transported to local hospitals.
A team from the National Transportation Safety Board is leading the investigation and has reported that the boat was traveling at about 10 to 12 knots, or about 11 to 14 mph when it crashed into the dock. Crew members underwent drug and alcohol testing by a private company, the results of which will be released in 24 to 48 hours. Onlookers described a large gash in the ferry that was visible after the crash. Photos provided by passengers showed shattered glass and other damage aboard the ferry.
The Chairman of Seastreak, James Barker told reporters that the boat received new engines last summer to reduce air emissions, making it perhaps the "greenest ferry in America." According to Coast Guard incident reports the ferry involved in yesterday's crash appears to have been involved in two past accidents in 2009 and 2010. No one was injured in either crash. Moreover, since 2007 Seastreak vessels have been involved in ten accidents during ferry service to Manhattan some resulting in injured passengers.
Ferry service has been expanding steadily over the past few years with New York City subsidizing some ferry services. Currently, an estimated 45,000 to 65,000 commuters utilize private ferry services such as Seastreak to commute to lower Manhattan. More recently, ferry service was expanded after Hurricane Sandy to help ease traffic and provide alternative routes for New York and New Jersey commuters left without public transportation.
New Yorkers may recall another tragic ferry accident took place on Oct. 15, 2003, when a Staten Island Ferry missed its dock and hit a maintenance pier at full speed, killing 11 people and injuring 70 others. Block, O'Toole & Murphy LLP is familiar with maritime law and represented individuals injured in the 2003 ferry crash. In fact, Block O'Toole & Murphy was able to secure the first settlement with the city, recovering more than a million dollars for an injured claimant. If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident onboard a ferry, boat, or other vessel in New York City our experienced team of trial lawyers can help investigate your case and identify the responsible parties. Please contact us at 212.736.5300 or at www.blockotoole.com
New York Daily News, "SCARY HISTORY: Seastreak has been involved in 10 incidents en route to or near New York City since 2007," by Pete Donohue and Greg B. Smith January 9, 2013
New York Times, "Several Dozen Injured in Ferry Crash in Lower Manhattan," by Matt Flegenheimer and Colin Moynihan January 9, 2013,
CNN, "New York City ferry crash leaves 85 injured," by David Ariosto January 9, 2013
WSJ online, "Ferry Crash Injures 74," by Ted Mann, Pervaiz Shallwani and Jennifer Weiss January 9, 2013