Jail time for NY ferry accident

NY ferry pilot, official jailed for 2003 crash
2006-01-10 08:06:06

NEW YORK, Jan. 9 (Xinhuanet) -- The pilot at the helm of the New York Staten Island Ferry when it crashed in 2003, killing 11 people, and the city's former ferry director, were given jail terms here Monday.

Assistant Captain Richard Smith, who passed out in the pilot's house of the Andrew J. Barberi after taking medication with drowsy side effects, was sentenced to 18 months in prison. The former ferry director, Patrick Ryan, was also sentenced to one year and one day in jail on related charges of negligence. A probation official had recommended that the pilot, Richard Smith, get three months in prison and Ryan get six months.

Last month, a federal investigator recommended that Smith and Ryan receive sentences of less than one year - far below sentencing guidelines. Victims and relatives of those who died got a chance to speak this afternoon before the sentences were announced. During the court hearing, Smith offered an impassioned apology in a statement to the court. Ryan also apologized to the families before he was given the jail terms.

Eleven people died, and more than 70 were injured when the Barberi ran into a concrete maintenance pier at full speed at the St. George Terminal in Staten Island in October of 2003. It was the worst accident in the Manhattan-Staten Island ferry service's 100-year history. Since the crash, more than 200 people have sued the city which,without a cap, could face up to billions of dollars in damages.