NEW YORK A high-speed ferry loaded with hundreds of commuters from New Jersey crashed into a dock in lower Manhattan on Wednesday during the morning rush hour, injuring at least 50 people, two of them critically.
Passengers aboard the Seastreak Wall Street said dozens of people who had been standing, waiting to disembark, were hurled to the deck by the impact.
“We were pulling into the dock. The boat hit the dock. We just tumbled on top of each other. I got thrown into everybody else. ... People were hysterical, crying,” said Ellen Foran, 57, of Neptune City, N.J.
The accident, which ripped open part the boat’s hull like an aluminum can, happened at 8:45 a.m. at a pier near the South Street Seaport, at Manhattan’s southern tip. Firefighters carried people away on flat-board stretchers as long as an hour after the crash.
About 330 passengers and crew members were aboard the ferry, which had arrived from Atlantic Highlands, a part of the Jersey Shore still struggling to recover from Superstorm Sandy.
Officials said “about 57” people were injured, two critically. Of the 11 people seriously injured, the most serious had suffered a head injury falling down the stairs. Most injuries were minor.
New York City’s transportation commissioner, Janette Sadik-Khan, said the ferry was coming in at 10 to 12 knots, or about 12 mph, when it collided with one slip and hit a second.
Dee Wertz, who was on shore waiting for the ferry, saw the impact. She said that just moments before it hit, she had been having a conversation with a ferry employee about how the boat’s captains had been complaining lately about its maneuverability.
Three people were badly hurt and about 40 injured when the same ferry hit the same pier in 2010, because of a mechanical problem.
The National Transportation Safety Board said it had dispatched investigators to the scene, and ferry company officials are at the scene as well.
Ferries are a fairly common way to commute to work in Manhattan, an island separated from New Jersey and the rest of New York City by several rivers.
Read tomorrow's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.