Source: 4 New York

Live Video: http://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local/Ferry-Crash-South-Street-Pier-11-186161082.html

A rush hour commuter ferry with more than 320 passengers aboard crashed Wednesday as it approached a Wall Street pier, injuring more than 50 people, police said.

The injuries were first described as minor, but after patients were assessed, officials said two were critical — one with a serious head injury — nine were serious, 17 were guarded and 29 were minor. No passengers were thrown into the water, officials said.

The Seastreak ferry left Highlands, N.J. at 8 a.m. with 326 people aboard, including five crew members, and had a hard landing at Pier 11, which is located at South Street and Gouverneur Lane. It struck a loading barge that it was passing while trying to dock, according to Seastreak President James Barker.

“There was a jolt when that occurred, throwing the people forward into their seats and the walls,” Barker told NBC 4 New York.

City officials said the ferry hit two slips and was traveling at about 10-12 knots, equal to 11-15 mph.

Chopper 4 footage showed a large gash at the front of the ferry.

Passenger Sean Boyle told NBC 4 New York that the ferry seemed to head “full speed right into the pier,” and said some riders were thrown down the stairs on the boat.

“Everybody got jolted right out of their seats,” he said.

Dee Wertz was on shore waiting for the ferry and said “it was coming in a little wobbly.”

“It hit the right side of the boat on the dock hard, like a bomb,” she said. After impact, the boat docked and passengers raced off, she said.

“I think people just wanted to get the heck off the boat as soon as they could,” she said.

Seastreak carries commuters from ports in New Jersey to Pier 11, East 35th Street and World Financial Center, according to its website. In its five-vessel fleet are four boats that can carry 400 passengers and one that can carry 149.

The Coast Guard said it was on scene and assisting in the investigation, which would include routine drug and alcohol tests of the ferry captain.

The ferry, called the Seastreak Wall Street, was last inspected in July 2012, right after new engines were installed, Coast Guard spokesman Charles Rowe said.

The National Transportation Safety Board said it was launching a team to investigate.