NEW YORK – Frank Corchado was sleeping in the back of the Staten Island ferry (search), on his way home after his shift as an elevator mechanic. The screaming woke him.
Corchado saw dozens of people running and screaming as the ferry sped toward a windswept Staten Island pier and crashed into the dock, shattering glass windows and severing the limbs of several people.
"The scene was total chaos. You ever see a dead person all cut up? That really put the zap on me," said Corchado, 29, after the ferry disaster that killed at least 10 people and injured dozens of others.
"There was a lady without legs, right in the middle of the boat. She was screaming."
Corchado said he tried to help as many people as possible get out. Witnesses said some jumped into the choppy, 62-degree water and others ran as the pier chewed up the side of the boat.
"Most of the people who died were older people, I believe, who couldn't move or didn't have enough time to get out of the way," Corchado said.
Evan Robinson said he was waiting to board the ferry to Manhattan (search) when he saw the vessel speeding up at a strange angle as it headed into the terminal.
"I thought maybe he was avoiding some other boat. I saw he was heading right to the pier," said Robinson, 43. "I said, oh my God, he's going to crash into that pier."'
"It didn't even sound that loud when it hit. It was strange."
Corchado came to St. Vincent's Hospital (search) Wednesday night to check on a man he only knew as "Paul," who he said he helped leave the boat.
"Paul was very bad, very bad," Corchado said. "Internal injuries, I believe. His leg was broken."
"There was another gentleman. By the time we got him out of the boat, he was dead."
Family members were waiting for word on their loved ones at two hospitals and at an American Red Cross family assistance center in the area.
Gabriel Fequiere came looking for his mother, 83-year-old Clelie Fequiere. Fequiere went to Manhattan at 9 a.m. Wednesday to do volunteer work as a caretaker and hadn't called, he said.
"I'm keeping my fingers crossed," her son said, walking pensively down the street. "I'm worried sick. It's my mom."