Staten Island ferry slams into dock; dozens hurt

Liz De La Torre

From The Associated Press

NEW YORK – Authorities say a Staten Island ferry with a history of accidents lost power and crashed into a pier as it approached its terminal, leaving as many as 37 people with minor and moderate injuries.

The accident happened at around 9:20 a.m. Saturday as the Andrew J. Barberi approached the St. George Ferry Terminal on Staten Island.

The city’s transportation commissioner says the ferry’s throttle failed to engage as it came in for a landing.

That meant the crew was unable to use the engines to slow the vessel.

Coast Guard officials say the ferry suffered serious damage to its ramps and decks above the waterline. More than a dozen people were checked out at area hospitals.

The Andrew Barberi was also involved in a 2003 wreck that killed 11 people after the pilot passed out at the wheel.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

NEW YORK (AP) — A Staten Island ferry boat with a history of accidents struck a pier as it approached a terminal Saturday, seriously hurting at least one person and leaving as many as 35 with minor injuries.

The Andrew J. Barberi hit the pier at around 9:20 a.m. as it approached the St. George Ferry Terminal on Staten Island.

Passenger Jason Watler, 30, of St. George, said he realized the ferry was moving faster than usual as it approached the shore, became alarmed and began to run toward the back of the boat.

“It was not slowing down,” he said. “He was going too fast.”

Then, he heard a “a real big boom.”

“I stumbled a little bit,” he said. “People were screaming. People were crying.”

Fire Department officials said some passengers were being taken by ambulance to hospitals. Others were being bandaged and comforted by firefighters at the scene.

City officials were still struggling to gather information on the crash and what might have caused it more than 90 minutes after it happened. They said there were unsure how much damage was done to the boat, which was still afloat.

Service on the ferry line was suspended after the accident, then restored by late morning.

The Andrew Barberi was also involved in a 2003 wreck that killed 11 people. That accident also occurred at the St. George Terminal, when the boat failed to slow down and hit the pier at full speed.

The ferry runs across New York harbor between Manhattan and Staten Island.