The ferry that crashed on Wednesday is run by Seastreak, LLC, a company owned by the Barker and Tregurtha families. The Barker and Tregurtha families also own the Interlake Steamship Company, Mormac Marine Group, Inc, and Moran Towing Co, the largest tug and barge operator on the East and Gulf Coasts, according to the company's website.
A spokesman for the Coast Guard indicated that there were 326 passengers and 5 crew members on the ferry. This ferry, which is operated by Seastreak, has a reported capacity of 400 passengers. At least two passengers suffered critical head injuries and a number of other passengers were removed from the ferry on backboards and transported to local hospitals.
CNN has reported one of the passenger's view of the accident. According to CNN, the passenger lost conciousness during the ferry accident. The passenger said “that when the ferry hit the pier, she flew into the air. The next thing she remembers is that she woke up on the floor to see a woman shaking her and asking her to speak.” She says that as she walked through the ferry, she saw many people on the floor. Earlier, another witness told CNN that shortly before the ferry hit the pier, many people were standing, anticipating the moment they could walk off the boat. According to passenger Elizabeth Banta “There was a large jolt," and "It felt like we were in a car crash. ... Several people were thrown into the air and onto the ground."
You can read more about a previous ferry captian's perspective on driving ferry's from New Jersey.com:
Bill Allen, a retired Staten Island Ferry captain who worked in New York Harbor for two decades, said it’s something passengers take for granted.NTSB begins investigation of collision that injured 56The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) arrives in New York to begin investigation of an incident in which a Ferry Boat from Highlands, NJ, crashed into pier 11 in New York this morning. Board Member Rober L Sumwalt speaks to the press about the groups investigative efforts. (Video by Frances Micklow / The Star-Ledger)Watch video
"It’s not like driving a bus, where you come up to a stop and just put the brakes on. It’s a whole different ballgame," he said.
Though there have been a few ferry accidents in recent years, there are hundreds of trips each day by companies shuttling commuters around waterways, each ending with soft, seamless landings.
Yet, near the end of the route the Seastreak Wall Street travels is an area known to captains as "the spider," where a weave of currents converge and can cause headaches for pilots.
"That particular area in the East River is difficult to begin with," said Allen, who had a perfect safety record. "When you make a landing with a ferry, no matter what kind, you come in riding with the current, or you’re riding against it, so you’re either powering up to buck that current or not, and that depends on the time and the day."
Capt. John Hagedorn, a professor at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, N.Y., said in order to dock any vessel, pilots must first learn about it; the length, the weight, the height and the engines. From there, they study variables like the number of people on board, the moon and tides, current and winds.
"It’s all about experience," Hagedorn said. "Experience is what gives the mariner the ability to put the knowledge about the vessel together with the knowledge about the environment in order to get the vessel where he wants it to go."
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