Officials say that the Staten Island Ferry that crashed into a dock at the St. George Terminal last night lost power when it was entering its slip. The Staten Island Advance reports, "Ferry Chief James DeSimone said the propulsion system failed as the ferry docked, and compared it to a car suddenly losing its brakes. He said the unidentified captain 'took the appropriate action' and that all crew members were given mandatory drug and alcohol tests."
A passenger on the outside deck told the Advance, "I was, like, we're coming in fast. You could see the guys with the chains start screaming, 'Move back, move back!' Everybody just started running." According to the Daily News, the captain let the passengers know that the boat lost power; about 25 seconds before the crash, another passenger said that the captain got on the loudspeaker, "He kept repeating, 'Passengers, hold on. Passengers, hold on.'" And a snack bar clerk said, "There was a big crash... The boat was shaking. It was very scary. Everybody was running."
Among the 750-800 passengers aboard the 6:45 p.m. boat from Manhattan, fifteen suffered minor injuries. The dock was also damaged. Initially, it looks like the boat had an electrical transformer malfunction. The boat, the John Marchi, was put into service just a few years ago, but the Advance says it "has been plagued with mechanical and generator problems," with another "hard docking" back "in April 2007 [that] sent seven people to the hospital." One passenger said, "I never take the ferry. I always take the X14 bus. The day I take the boat, look what happened."
On October 15, 2003, a Staten Island ferry crashed into the St. George pier, killing 11 people and injuring dozens.