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Ferry Accident Raises Questions about Safety

Almost 60,000 people a day make trips on the Staten Island Ferry, according to the New York City Department of Transportation. And the number of people taking the Staten Island Ferry and other ferries is rising as traffic snarls and subway accidents increase.

However, the ferry accident on Pier 11 in Manhattan on January 9, which injured 83 passengers and one crew member, makes one question the safety of ferries.

The accident happened as the 131-foot vessel was approaching the pier at about 12 knots. The boat’s master was unable to get the thrust controls to work on any of the consoles. Many of the injuries may have occurred because the crew did not have time to warn the 326 passengers before the boat crashed into the dock, according to a preliminary report by the National Transportation Safety Board, cited by the Associated Press.

After the accident, the boat’s two main engines stopped working and the master told a crew member to restart them, which he did successfully, the agency said. The propulsion control worked properly when the engines were restarted, and the master was able to guide the boat to a slip, where emergency personnel were already waiting to help the injured.

At least one passenger said after the accident that a ferry employee had told her that the boat’s captains had recently noted problems with the ferry’s maneuverability.

The NTSB said the boat sustained damage to the starboard side of the bow and had debris in its portside propeller, along with broken windows on the bottom of a staircase and doors leading to the aft deck.

The investigation of the accident is still ongoing.

In a similar incident in 2003, a Staten Island Ferry crashed into a maintenance dock, and 10 people were killed and several injured, according to a nytimes.com article.

If you or a member of your family was injured on a ferry in NYC, please contact an experienced personal injury attorney in New York to determine your rights to collect medical expenses, lost wages and other related costs.

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