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At least 2 critical in ferry crash

Photo Credit: Eyewitness News Channel 7
Photo Credit: Eyewitness News Channel 7

Seastreak Wall Street, the ferry that crashed into Pier 11 in lower Manhattan this morning, hit pilings while docking in Sandy Hook in January 2010, the Coast Guard reported.
No one was injured in that incident.

  • YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: New Jersey State Police advised tonight that all service in and out of Pier 11 in lower Manhattan is cancelled all day tomorrow while the National Transportation Safety Board investigates this morning’s crash of a high-speed ferry from the Highlands. READ MORE….

It was different this morning: Two of 57 people injured this morning had serious head injuries, including a man who the NYPD said was out of surgery and in stable condition at Cornell Medical Center just before noon after falling down stairs from the upper deck ( UPDATE: The total number of injured was later put at 85).

Ferry officials say vessels will strike piers and other stationary objects at times, due to tidal shifts and heavy wind, in addition to operator error.

The most serious in recent memory was the 2003 Staten Island ferry crash, which killed 11 people and injured 70, after the captain passed out at the controls. Three years ago, another Staten Island ferry mishap injured dozens of passengers.

The weather wasn’t severe during this morning’s ebb tide as Seastreak Wall Street hit the South Street Seaport dock at 8:50 a.m., five minutes past its scheduled arrival.

As always happens, people were up and milling — which ordinarily begins on the 140-foot commuter ferry from Highlands (not Atlantic Highlands, as others originally reported) after it passes the Statue of Liberty, witnesses said.

PHOTOS: Eyewitness News Channel 7

Most of them were on the upper deck. None ended up in the water, city officials said.

Various photos show a gash in the starboard bow about three feet above the water line.

Five crew members joined 326 passengers on the 400-capacity vessel, which launched its 40-minute trip from Conner’s Pier, bound for an 8:45 a.m. arrival in the Wall Street area.

“It appears that the boat hit Slip D then continued on and hit Slip B,” said Janet Sadik-Khan, the city commissioner of the Department of Transportation, during a news conference at the pier around 11:15.
“Basically, it was a hard landing.”

The National Transportation Safety Board was expected around 1 this afternoon to investigate. The Coast Guard was already on scene, working with the NYPD. Sadik-Khan said the pier would reopen later this afternoon.

All of the crew members passed alcohol breath tests given after the crash, the NYPD said.

The ferries are popular, despite the price tag: More than $600 for 40 trips. One reason is time, about half that of most trains.

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