Another Staten Island Ferry Accident Prompts Renewed Safety Concerns

On May 10, a vessel of the famous Staten Island ferry fleet struck a New York Bay pier for the second time in the last seven years. At least three dozen of the some 250 passengers on board suffered minor injuries when the vessel, the Andrew J. Barberi , crashed into a pier in what is being termed a "hard dock." Luckily, there were no fatalities.

A preliminary investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board indicates that alcohol was not a factor. Drug tests are pending on the 18-man crew, but a mechanical failure is the likely culprit. At this time, it is believed that the boat's braking system may have malfunctioned, preventing assistant captain Maqbool Ahmed from slowing before the impact with a slip on the Staten Island side of New York Bay. Prior to the accident, all systems were apparently functioning normally.

Since the Staten Island ferry moves approximately 20 million people each year (around 60,000 each working day, it is amazing that many more fatal accidents have not occurred. The last one was back in 2003, when the same ship was involved in a high-speed collision with the St. George pier that killed 11 people. The crash occurred after operator Richard J. Smith took the helm under the influence of both prescription and over-the-counter pain medications. He subsequently pled guilty to manslaughter charges and spent time in a New York prison.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a ferry accident or other vessel crash, contacting a personal injury attorney well-versed in maritime and admiralty laws can be an invaluable step towards protecting your legal rights.

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