NEW YORK – A ferry boat with about 800 passengers aboard lost power while docking during the Wednesday evening rush hour and slammed into a pier, injuring 15 people.
Ferry officials said the boat's hard docking happened as it entered slip No. 5 at the St. George ferry terminal in Staten Island, where a 2003 ferry crash killed 11 people. The injuries in Wednesday's accident were minor.
Preliminary reports indicated the captain sounded the boat's whistle and crew members prepared the passengers for the hard landing, Staten Island Ferry Chief Operating Officer Jim DeSimone said.
Witnesses said that the announcement from the pilothouse was to "hang on" and that riders scrambled to the back of the ferry, which was taking them from lower Manhattan.
The boat hit the terminal's lower bridge platform and upper pedestrian passenger walkway, causing minor damage to the bridge deck and handrail on the walkway, DeSimone said. There was no damage to the boat, the John J. Marchi, named for a former state senator who died in April.
Fire department officials said between 750 and 800 passengers were removed from the boat after the incident.
The city Department of Transportation, which oversees the ferry system, and the U.S. Coast Guard were investigating. Ferry crew members were undergoing routine drug and alcohol tests, DeSimone said.
The Staten Island Ferry has nine vessels that carry commuters between Staten Island and lower Manhattan. The 5-mile, 25-minute ride is free.
A Staten Island Ferry boat with about 1,500 people aboard crashed into a pier at full speed on Oct. 15, 2003, killing 11 people and injuring dozens more in one of the city's worst mass-transit disasters. The ferry's pilot had been taking painkillers and was suffering from extreme fatigue.