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November 6, 2003

Ferry captain pleads Fifth Amendment

The National Transportation Safety Board says that at 10 a.m. today, Michael Gansas, Captain of the Staten Island ferry, Andrew J. Barberi, exercised his Fifth Amendment right when he appeared before the board. The Captain provided his name and age and refused to answer any questions relating to the safety investigation on the grounds that his responses may incriminate him. The United States District Court yesterday enforced an NTSB subpoena and ordered the Captain to appear before Board investigators for an interview.

"We hope we will be able to talk to Captain Gansas in the future," said NTSB Chairman Ellen G. Engleman. "Our investigation into this tragedy continues and I am confident we will learn the circumstances that led to this accident."

As part of its ongoing investigation, NTSB investigators have conducted over 50 witness interviews including passengers and all crewmembers except the captain and pilot. Investigators have interviewed 2 of the mates, 8 deck hands, and 4 engineers. These interviews will be used to formulate a chronology of events prior to and during impact, and after the accident.

The team has completed both aerial and surface observations of the approach to St. George Terminal following normal ferry tracks and the Barberi track on the day of the accident. Investigators also reviewed Staten Island Ferry operating procedures and policies and personnel records of both the Captain and the pilot.

The investigation is expected to take up to 12 months, but safety recommendations may be issued at any time. Any further pertinent factual information will be released as it is gathered.
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