When a Staten Island ferry slammed into a pier in May 2010, it injured three dozen passengers. The crash involved the ill-fated ferry, the Andrew J. Barberi, which seven years prior ago crashed and caused the wrongful death of 11 passengers.
According to the New York Daily News, at least one injured passenger has filed a lawsuit over the most recent incident. Construction worker Flabio Silva of Queens suffered a back injury when the Barberi rammed the St. George Terminal after an apparent mechanical malfunction.
Silva, who filed a $5 million claim against the city, told the newspaper that he had no idea he was riding the same vessel that was involved in the ferry service's biggest disaster.
While city officials told the New York Times that they believe a mechanical failure is to blame for the latest crash, federal investigators weren't ruling out any possible causes. They have conducted interviews and tests of both the pilot and the co-pilot, who were at the controls in the pilothouse as the Barberi made its way back to Staten Island from Manhattan.
Approximately 250 passengers and a crew of 18 were onboard. Some passengers said they received warnings from members of the crew just before the ferry hit the pier, while the vessel's chief engineer said no engine alarms sounded before the crash.
Captain Donald Russell, a five-year ferry veteran, realized as the boat was approaching the pier that he didn't feel the typical vibrations indicating the ferry was slowing. He ordered five horn blasts, signaling the crew to warn passengers of the impact.
Investigators are also looking at video of the crash and have conducted an underwater examination of the ferry's propulsion system.
In the 2003 tragedy, an assistant captain was operating from one of the mammoth orange boat's two pilothouses; before the crash, Richard J. Smith had been taking painkillers that caused drowsiness. He later pleaded guilty to manslaughter.
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