Investigation Begins on Fatal Ferry Crash

Wednesday, October 15, 2003
Photo Credit: Don Sutherland
Investigation begins on yesterday's ferry accident that has seriously injured several passengers and killed 10.

A Staten Island Ferry crashed as it was docking Wednesday afternoon, severely injuring several passengers and killing at least 10. As New York City rush hour began to peak, the incident occurred at about 3:20 p.m., as the vessel was en route to dock at the St. George Terminal on the Staten Island end of its Manhattan commuter route. According to reports, the front end of the ferry suffered damage to the right side of the hull. The lower deck of the vessel collided with pilings and ripped steel and beams in half, creating a scene of pandemonium for hundreds of passengers.

With high winds in the New York harbor, the weather may have been a factor in what is being called one of the worst ferry accidents in New York City's history. The 310-ft. vessel, the Andrew J. Barbieri, can accommodate up to 6,000 passengers, but it is not known how many passengers were aboard at the time of the crash. There is a 400-yard debris field surrounding the ferry that is being investigated, according to the Coast Guard. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is on hand today to begin investigating the cause of the crash. The cause of the accident may take weeks, even months to be determined and released. The 22 year-old, Barbieri-classed vessel is maintained and operated by the NYC DOT and is among an 8 vessel fleet that transports up to 70,000 passengers a day. A 5-mile, 25 minute ferry route separates lower Manhattan and Staten Island. Wednesday's accident temporarily suspended service on the ferry. It is reported that no crew members were injured in the accident, however, one of the two piloting captains left the scene and was later hospitalized for attempting suicide.

The Guy V. Molinari, the first of three ferries built to modernize the Staten Island ferry fleet, was launched in September by its builder, Marinette Marine in Wisconsin.

-J.R.

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