NEW YORK – Prosecutors will unseal an indictment against the captain and pilot in last year's Staten Island ferry (search) crash on charges that include 11 counts of manslaughter, law enforcement sources said Tuesday.
Richard Smith (search), an assistant captain who piloted the Staten Island ferry that crashed last year and killed 11 people, is expected to plead guilty Wednesday, when prosecutors announce the results of their 10-month investigation.
Smith is scheduled to enter a guilty plea in federal court in Brooklyn (search), according to the calendar for Chief Judge Edward Korman. The calendar does not specify the charge, and Smith's lawyer declined to comment Tuesday.
In addition to Smith, the indictment names Michael Gansas (search) -- the ferry's captain -- and other ferry personnel as defendants, law enforcement sources said. A physician who treated Smith before the accident also faces charges, said one of the sources.
The sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, refused to give further details.
The ferry slammed into a concrete pier on Staten Island after it crossed New York Harbor from Manhattan on the afternoon of Oct. 15. The accident injured dozens of people and led to billions of dollars in civil claims.
Investigators said Gansas violated procedure by not being in the wheelhouse during docking, when Smith lost control of the vessel. Smith said after the crash that he had passed out at the controls.
The Andrew J. Barberi ferry ran into the maintenance pier several hundred yards from the St. George passenger terminal, tearing open a 250-foot-long gash extending eight feet into its hull.
Gansas has offered mismanagement as a defense, and the criminal investigation expanded its focus in the months after the crash from the crew to high-ranking ferry officials and whether they neglected safety rules so grievously that they committed crimes.
Investigators have examined the actions of director of ferry operations Patrick Ryan and port captains Joseph Ecock and John Mauldin. The three men's attorneys said Tuesday that they had received no notice that their clients would be indicted, and they declined to comment on the investigation.
Each of the city's ferries has two wheelhouses, one facing Staten Island, the other Manhattan. Gansas' lawyers say ferry crews were never notified of a 2001 rule requiring the captain to be in the port-facing wheelhouse during docking. Other crew members have agreed.
An attorney for Gansas declined to comment Tuesday.
The crash revealed serious problems with safety rules on the ferries, and the city has revamped its procedures in response.
A woman who was injured in the ferry crash settled with the city last month for $1.125 million, the largest deal reached so far. Laura Diaz, 41, who was on her way home from work as a court clerk, fractured her femur and pelvis and has yet to return to her job.
The settlement was the 33rd reached with the city in connection to the crash. The other 32 had totaled around $600,000.
The city ferry fleet shuttles about 70,000 people a day between Staten Island and Manhattan, a 5.2-mile trip that takes about 25 minutes.