October 22, 2003

NTSB issues subpoena in S.I. ferry probe

The National Transportation Safety Board yesterday issued an "update of factual information" on its investigation into the Staten Island Ferry.

On October 15, 2003, at 3:20 p.m., while on a regularly scheduled run between lower Manhattan (Whitehall Terminal) and Staten Island (St. George Terminal), notes the statement, the 310-foot Staten Island passenger ferry Andrew J. Barberi struck a pier at the St. George Terminal. There were 10 passengers killed and over 30 injuries.

"As announced on Friday, October 17, 2003," says the statement, "the National Transportation Safety Board had scheduled an interview for today [October 21] with the Captain of the Barberi. Although NTSB personnel have been working with attorneys for the Captain since Thursday in an effort to obtain his account of events, the Board has been advised that the Captain will not present himself to NTSB investigators today. Therefore, the Board has issued a subpoena for the Captain to appear before NTSB investigators and parties to the Board's investigation tomorrow."

"The Safety Board will continue to aggressively pursue safety and we are moving forward with our investigation. We hope to continue to get full cooperation from all parties involved," said Chairman Ellen G. Engleman. "Our goal is to obtain all the factual information possible so that we can make safety recommendations that will save lives."

To date, the team has conducted 37 witness interviews of crewmembers, passengers (including interviews of injured passengers in local hospitals), NYPD police and FDNY first responders, and company officials. In addition, the team has tested the steering and propulsion systems and examined the navigation equipment on board the Andrew Barberi. During these tests, the team also witnessed the operation of the transfer system passing control from engine room to wheelhouse, and from wheelhouse to wheelhouse. The tests verified that the equipment and systems performed as designed. Further, the team has examined the Ferry Samuel I Newhouse (sistership to the Barberi), and completed three round trip transits over the ferry route to observe ferry operations. The team completed preliminary surveys of damages to the vessel and to the dock.

The Board's on-scene investigation is continuing and pertinent factual information will be released as it is gathered.

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