Investigators Looking Into Ferry Crash, Crane Collapse

NEW YORK (AP/Hamodia) -

Investigators were on the scene  of the ferry crash and the crane collapse Thursday to try to determine the cause of each.

The ferry had recently undergone a major overhaul that gave it new engines and a new propulsion system, and officials are looking into whether they played any role in the morning rush hour accident.

The National Transportation Safety Board also began interviewing crew members of the catamaran Seastreak Wall Street on Thursday, a process NTSB board member Robert Sumwalt said would take all day.

The ferry had slowed following a routine trip across New York Bay Wednesday morning when the impact took place, hurling scores of people to the deck or into the walls. Around 70 were hurt, 11 seriously.

The naval architecture firm that designed the reconfiguration, Incat Crowther, said in an August news release that the ferry’s water-jet propulsion system had been replaced with a new system of propellers and rudders to save fuel costs and cut carbon dioxide pollution in half. The hull was reworked, and the boat was made 15 metric tons lighter.

Seastreak spokesman Bob Dorn said it would be up to the National Transportation Safety Board to determine if the new equipment played any role.

The vessel did not have a data recorder and was not required to have one.

On Thursday, investigators also began documenting the damage on the pier and engineers began to comb through the ferry’s maintenance records.

About 330 passengers and crew members were aboard the ferry, which had arrived from Atlantic Highlands. Passenger Frank McLaughlin said he was thrown forward and wrenched his knee.

“We come in and do this every day, and so it just kind of glides in,” he said. “It came in hard, and it was just a huge impact as we hit.”

Some passengers were bloodied when they banged into walls and toppled to the floor, he said. After the impact, the boat was able to dock normally.

Police said the boat’s crew passed alcohol breath tests given after the crash. Crew members also took drug tests, the results of which weren’t immediately available.

Officials identified the captain as Jason Reimer, an experienced seaman. In a 2004 profile in Newsday, Reimer said he had joined Seastreak as a deckhand in 1997 and became a captain three years later at age 23. Barker called him “a great guy.”

The Seastreak Wall Street has been in minor accidents before. Coast Guard records said the ferry hit a cluster of fender piles while docking in 2010, punching a small hole in the ship’s skin. In 2009, it suffered another tear on the bow after another minor docking collision. No one was injured in either of those mishaps.

Meanwhile, work remained suspended Thursday at the site a crane collapse as New York City engineers sought to determine what caused the equipment to fall, said the Department of Buildings said Thursday.

The crane’s 170-foot-long boom fell Wednesday afternoon onto the framework of a recently-started building. Seven workers suffered injuries, none life-threatening.