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Injuries after Ferry Strikes Manhattan Dock

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NEW YORK (AP) — At least 57 people were injured, two critically, when a commuter ferry struck a dock in New York City's financial district during Wednesday morning's rush hour, officials said. A corner of the ferry was ripped open, and passengers said people fell on each other, screaming and crying.

One witness said a ferry employee moments before the accident had mentioned the boat's recent trouble with maneuvering.

Passengers aboard the Seastreak Wall Street ferry said scores of people who had been 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," said Ellen Foran.

Firefighters were still carrying people away on stretchers an hour after the crash. Of the 11 people seriously injured, the most serious had a head injury from falling down the stairs. Most of the other injuries were minor.

More than 340 passengers and crew members were aboard the ferry from New Jersey, one of many that carry commuters to the island of Manhattan.

New York City's transportation commissioner, Janette Sadik-Khan, said the ferry was coming in at 10 to 12 knots, or about 12 mph (19 kph), when it collided with one slip and hit a second.

Dee Wertz was on shore waiting for the ferry and saw the impact. She said she had been talking with a ferry employee about how the boat's captains had been complaining lately about its maneuverability.

"He was telling me that none of these guys like this boat," Wertz said. "It was coming in a little wobbly. It hit the right side of the boat on the dock hard, like a bomb."

After the impact, the boat was able to dock normally. Wertz said passengers raced off once the ramp came down.

"I think people just wanted to get the heck off the boat as soon as they could," she said.

The crash came just months after the ferry had a major mechanical overhaul. The marine industry magazine MarineLog reported in August that the water-jet propulsion system was replaced with a new system of propellers and rudders to save fuel costs.

People answering the phone at Seastreak's offices in New Jersey referred questions to a lawyer, who did not immediately return phone messages.

In 2003, 11 people were killed when a Staten Island Ferry crashed into a city pier after its pilot passed out at the wheel. 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 Wednesday it had dispatched investigators to the scene.

Police said the ferry crew passed alcohol breath tests given after the crash.

___

Associated Press writers Colleen Long, Karen Matthews, Larry Neumeister, Ted Shaffrey and Verena Dobnik contributed to this report.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.



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