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N.Y. ferry captain says reverse failed

NEW YORK — The captain of a commuter ferry that crashed into a lower Manhattan wharf told federal investigators on Thursday that the vessel had a mechanical failure and he was unable to put it in reverse when he tried to dock.

The 36-year-old captain of the Seastreak Wall Street was interviewed by National Transportation Safety Board investigators for three hours on Thursday.

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That was one day after the vessel made a hard landing, hurling scores of people down stairs and into walls at the end of a routine run across New York Bay. Around 70 were hurt, 11 seriously.

The captain, Jason Reimer, and his crew ‘‘were shaken and very concerned about the accident,’’ said NTSB member Robert Sumwalt. ‘‘They’ve been very forthright and cooperative.’’

Sumwalt said the captain told investigators that as the ferry approached the dock, he moved from a central console to one on the starboard, or right, side of the vessel, as was customary.

When he tried to put the ferry in reverse, it did not work, Sumwalt said.

He quickly switched back to the center, but reverse did not work there either, he reported. He also said the engines later died.

At the time it smashed into the dock, the Seastreak Wall Street was going about 13 miles an hour.

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