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High-speed ferry strikes N.Y. dock; dozens hurt

A victim was treated at the scene of the ferry crash at a pier near the South Street Seaport, at Manhattan’s southern tip.

Brendan McDermid/Reuters

A victim was treated at the scene of the ferry crash at a pier near the South Street Seaport, at Manhattan’s southern tip.

NEW YORK — A high-speed ferry loaded with hundreds of commuters from New Jersey crashed into a dock in Lower Manhattan during Wednesday’s morning rush hour, seriously injuring 11 people, including one who suffered a severe head wound falling down a stairwell.

Scores of people who had been standing, waiting to disembark, were hurled to the deck or launched into walls by the impact, which came after the catamaran Seastreak Wall Street slowed following a routine trip across New York Bay and past the Statue of Liberty, passengers said.

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‘‘We were pulling into the dock. The boat hit the dock. We just tumbled on top of each other. I got thrown into everybody else. ... People were hysterical, crying,’’ said Ellen Foran of Neptune City, N.J.

The crash, which ripped open a small part of the hull like an aluminum can, happened at 8:45 a.m. at a pier near the South Street Seaport, at Manhattan’s southern tip. About 70 people suffered minor injuries, and for nearly two hours paramedics treated bruised and dazed passengers on the pier.

Firefighters carried several patients on flat-board stretchers as a precaution. Other patients left in wheelchairs.

The cause of the crash was under investigation. The ferry, built in 2003, had recently undergone a major overhaul with new engines and a new propulsion system, but officials said it was too soon to tell whether they played a role in what happened.

Dee Wertz, who was on shore waiting for the ferry, saw the impact. She said that just moments before the ferry hit, she had been talking with a ferry employee about how the boat’s captains were complaining lately about its maneuverability.

‘‘He was telling me that none of these guys like this boat,’’ she said. ‘‘It was coming in a little wobbly. It hit the right side of the boat on the dock hard, like a bomb.’’

James Barker, the chairman of the ferry’s owner, Seastreak LLC, said at a press conference hours after the crash it was ‘‘a terrible day for all of us.’’

‘‘We are simply shocked and stunned that this happened,’’ he said, adding that the company would work with investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board to determine what went wrong. ‘‘Our priority continues to be the people who are injured.’’

About 330 passengers and crewmembers were aboard the ferry, which had arrived from Atlantic Highlands, a part of the Jersey Shore that is still struggling to recover from Hurricane Sandy.

New York City’s transportation commissioner, Janette Sadik-Khan, said the ferry was coming in at 10 to 12 knots, or about 12 to 14 miles per hour, when it struck one slip and then hit a second.

After the impact, the boat was able to dock normally.

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