NEW YORK – The city's director of ferries pleaded not guilty Thursday to 11 counts of manslaughter in last year's wreck of a Staten Island ferry (search).
Patrick Ryan (search) left the federal courthouse without speaking to reporters. His attorney, Tom Fitzpatrick, said he and Ryan were taken aback by the harshness of the charges.
"He's a bit dazed by the whole thing, just dazed," Fitzpatrick said.
The Oct. 15 crash was one of the worst mass-transit disasters in New York history. Eleven people died and dozens were hurt when the ferry's pilot blacked out and the Andrew J. Barberi slammed into a maintenance pier.
Ferry pilot Richard Smith (search) pleaded guilty Wednesday to 11 counts of manslaughter, acknowledging he neglected his duties by taking medications that made him lose consciousness at the helm.
Prosecutors accused Ryan of slipshod management, saying years of neglect were "a tragedy waiting to happen." They allege Ryan neglected long-established safety practices, including a requirement that a ship's captain and assistant captain share the wheelhouse during docking. Ryan never told new pilots about the rule or enforced it, prosecutors said.
Authorities say the ferry's captain was not in the wheelhouse when Smith passed out at the helm.
The ferry's port captain and a doctor who treated the ferry's pilot also pleaded not guilty to making false statements after the crash.