A commuter ferry boat crashed into a lower Manhattan pier early Wednesday causing injuries to 57 people, and reports indicate one was critically injured.
Firefighters and rescue workers responded to the scene at approximately 8:43am. A passenger reported to CNN that “people were thrown into the air and the ground”.
Many were transported to a local hospital. Reports from the police department indicated that only one person was critically injured.
The reports indicate that the ferry boat was backing up, struck something and slammed into the pier. An unidentified construction worker reported it as follows: “the boat was backing up and hit something and that’s when everything went crazy”.
The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the matter to determine the cause of the crash.
The ferry boat is named the Seastreak Wallstreet. It had departed from the Atlantic Highlands in New Jersey.
A ferry boat striking a pier in the New York/New Jersey area is not a first time occurrence. In October of 2003 a Staten Island ferry boat crashed into a maintenance pier and killed 11 people and injured dozens more. The same ferry boat involved in the 2003 incident, the Andrew J. Barberi also was involved in another accident in May of 2010 that injured approximately 40 passengers.
As a result of the 2003 ferry boat incident, the pilot of that ferry boat was sentenced to more than a year in prison. In that particular incident, the pilot had passed out at the helm.
The ferry boat involved in yesterday’s collision is operated by Seastreak, reported to be a privately owned company which holds another company called the Interlake Steamship Company, Mormac Marine Group, Inc., and Moran Towing Comp. Moran Towing Company is the largest tug and barge operator on the East and Gulf Coast, according to their website.
This maritime incident is a surely to result in many claims from passengers and crew for the obvious negligence of the operator of the ferry boat. All passengers aboard a ferry boat, just like passengers aboard a cruise ship, are owed a duty of reasonable care under the circumstances. Maritime law would apply to the claims for any personal injuries or deaths. Crewmembers onboard would have rights under the Jones Act and General Maritime Law of the United States. The Federal Courts would have jurisdiction over the matter, but there is the Savings to Suiters Clause in the Constitution that does permit admiralty action to be filed in State Court. An experienced maritime lawyer will evaluate all the facts and circumstances, who the proper defendants would be in the lawsuit, and decide what claims need to be pursued against the owner and operators of the ferry boat, as well as which court the maritime case should be filed in.
Our law firm handles exclusively maritime accidents, handling serious personal injury and wrongful death cases. I have been handling exclusively maritime cases for 30 years. I have been selected to appear before the United States Congress during congressional hearings addressing passenger safety aboard passenger vessels. The appears to be a needless incident and the operator will have a lot to answer about regarding this unfortunate incident.
The National Transportation Safety Board will provide very useful information regarding the cause of this accident.