20 years ago on October 15th, 2003
A Staten Island ferry strikes a pier at St. George Terminal, S.I., killing 11 people and injuring 165 of the 1,500 passengers
It became the worst incident in the ferry's history. The impact with the concrete pier tore a large gash down the side of the ferry, but it was not in danger of sinking. Immediately after the crash, the pilot, Richard Smith, attempted to slit his wrist, then fled the scene and was found at his home, having shot himself in the chest with a pellet gun.
He was charged in the 11 deaths after an investigation determined he had been operating the ferry under the influence of the painkillers tramadol and Tylenol PM, which caused him to pass out while at the controls. He was sentenced to 18 months in prison and four other were also found at fault in a breakdown of safety procedures and for making false statements.
The ferry involved in the fatal crash, the Andrew J. Barberi, would be taken out of service and repaired, but shortly after returning to service, it would be involved in a second crash, where the reverse thrusters malfunctioned as it was approaching the Staten Island dock, injuring 37 people.