Commuter ferry crashes into NY pier

NEW YORK (CNN) — At least 57 people were injured, two of them critically, when a New York-bound ferry crashed into a dock in Lower Manhattan Wednesday, authorities said.

It was not immediately clear what caused the crash, which occurred around 8:45 a.m.

Emergency crews carted several passengers on stretchers toward ambulances, and there was a gash on the front of the vessel.

“There was a large jolt,” said passenger Elizabeth Banta. “It felt like we were in a car crash. … Several people were thrown into the air and onto the ground.”

Witnesses said several passengers were waiting at the top of a stairwell aboard the vessel as it approached the dock and were flung off their feet.

“I saw a lot of bleeding heads with white bandages (and) a lot of people strapped to boards,” said Julie Westfall, who witnessed the incident.

The ferry, operated by Seastreak, provides daily service between New Jersey and Pier 11 near Wall Street and carries roughly 400 passengers at a time.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with those that were injured,” the company said in a statement, adding that it would work with authorities to determine what caused the accident.

Seastreak said that two scheduled trips — the 5:55 p.m. departure from East 35th St. and the 6:10 p.m. departure from Pier 11 — have been canceled as result of the crash.

The National Transportation Safety Board said Wednesday it was sending an investigative team to the scene, where at least six emergency vehicles remained late Wednesday morning.

Coast Guard records indicate that the same Seastreak ferry has been involved in prior crashes, including one in 2009 when the vessel slammed into a New Jersey dock and tore a 2- to 3-foot gash in the starboard bow of the vessel.

A year later, a collision with a dock pile punctured a hole in the port side of the same boat.

Wednesday’s crash also drew comparisons to an unrelated 2010 incident when a ferry boat with mechanical problems crashed into the Staten Island Ferry terminal, injuring 36 people.

That ferry, the Andrew J. Barberi, was the same vessel involved in an October 2003 crash that killed 11 people and injured 42, considered one of the worst ferry accidents in the city’s recent history.

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