NEW YORK (PIX11) – As many as 86 people were injured Wednesday morning after the commuter ferry they were riding in suffered a hard landing in a lower Manhattan pier.
According to officials, the 100-ton Seastreak ferry careened into the dock when it pulled into Pier 11 around 8:45 a.m. The boat appeared to hit one slip, then a second one, at high speed, according to a preliminary assessment of the crash provided by city officials.
Passengers were tossed around in a chaotic, bloody scene, with account of commuters thrown clear into the air and some down the stairs. Most passengers were seated at the time, PIX11 News has learned, giving some indication of the force of the crash.
Two people are in critical condition. One person was taken to New York Presbyterian Hospital for surgery after tumbling down a set of stairs and suffering a serious head injury. Nine others are in serious condition.
“There were people on backboards everywhere, just looking . . .it was a terrible scene,” said Sheila Carson. “One person was on the ground with a lot of blood nearby.”
Several victims were pulled out of the boat on stretchers and with bandaged heads as officials set up a triage area at the pier. The accident tore a large gash into the hull of the ferry. It was not immediately clear what caused the crash.
Some 363 passengers and five crew members were aboard the ferry at the time of the crash. All passengers have been removed from the boat.
Two of the injuries were severe, officials said. Twenty of the passengers were “longboarded” on stretchers for spinal mobilization, while others who were taken to hospitals were brought in under their own power.
“(There were) units everywhere, patients everywhere, just grab and go,” said Long Island College Hospital EMT Boris Ladyzhensky.
Those with minor injuries were transported to Brooklyn hospitals while the severe injuries were treated in Manhattan.
The ferry had departed from Connors Pier in Highlands, N.J. The Seastreak service runs high-speed ferries between New Jersey and Manhattan.
Seastreak LLC has a history of accidents and mismanagement, DNAinfo.com reported Wednesday. Eleven incidents over the past decade include vessels running aground, equipment failures and an engine room fire, according to the U.S. Coast Guard and the National Transportation Safety Board.
The NTSB held a preliminary press conference in the afternoon. Board member Robert Sumwalt announced that an 11-member team will begin investigating immediately, and guessed that the time-frame could be between five and seven days.
Stay with PIX11.com for more on this developing story.