The Associated Press reports that a high-speed commuter ferry carrying hundreds of passengers in Manhattan crashed into a dock during the morning rush hour last week, injuring at least 50 and leaving two in critical condition. Unfortunately for the passengers, the ferry was just about to come to a final halt when it crashed into the dock, causing commuters to be thrown onto the deck, tumbling over each other, and causing several injuries. The force of the ferry accident ripped open the boat’s hull significantly. The sheer number of persons aboard, nearly 330, contributed to the large number of injuries, and those on the scene reported that firefighters were still taking injured passengers away on stretchers over an hour after the crash.
Many of the injured commuters are still suffering from the effects of Superstorm Sandy, with many of them still homeless because of that horrific storm. The most serious injury involved one passenger who fell down a flight of stairs when the boat crashed, suffering a head injury. A spokesperson for city’s transportation department stated that the ferry was traveling at roughly 12 mph when it collided with one slip and hit a second. A slip is the nautical term for the boat’s parking space, it is the area where the boat can dock on the pier.
Apparently, many of the ferry operators had been complaining of late about the lack of maneuverability of these commuter ferrys. All of the ferry’s crew members were subject to breathalyzer tests after the crash and everyone passed. The National Transportation Safety Board has launched an investigation into this accident. While Chicago does not have a large-scale commuter ferry system like the one in New York, we do have water taxis and lake and river cruises that affect many persons in Illinois. Laws that involve the water are called maritime laws. All of those who go out onto the water must know that any driver of a water faring vessel owes its passengers a duty of care. They must exercise that care to prevent injuries to their passengers, other boaters, and even swimmers in the vicinity. Our waterways can be a place of great fun as long as everyone involved is exercising due care.