4 Injured When MBTA Ferry Runs Aground Off Long Island Head

Four people were injured when a Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority ferry ran aground Friday morning off Long Island Head in Boston Harbor, according to the MBTA and the Coast Guard.

The MBTA said the MV Lightning was headed from Hull to Boston when it was cut off by a sport fishing boat. The captain of the ferry was forced to take action to avoid a collision and the ferry ran aground in shallow water.

The incident occurred around 8:10 a.m., the Coast Guard said. Other ferries were slated to transfer passengers off The Lightning to take them to shore.

"We hit a rock. Apparently, a boat swerved in front of us, we had to swerve to avoid it, and the commuter ran aground," said Scott Prentiss, a passenger who takes the ferry every day. "People went flying. One guy went from the back of the boat almost to the front of the boat in one second flat."

"I was sitting on the boat and I heard a bunch of rocks grinding against the bottom of the boat," said Craig Snyder, another passenger. "I was able to brace myself and then we hit a huge rock and a whole bunch of people got thrown."

"I was sitting in the front, but downstairs, and all of a sudden it felt like we were running ashore, hitting something," said Julia Patterson, who takes the ferry to work. "We hit so hard that everyone went flying forward. Some people fell to the ground."

Michaela Lankas was on board with her two-year daughter when she said the boat stopped short and tossed people around.

"We heard a big crash and everyone went flying, and then we sat there for a while waiting to be rescued," Lankas said.

All four of the people who were injured were taken to area hospitals. At least one injury is potentially serious, according to state police.

One woman was seen being carried off on a stretcher, and several other passengers were attended to by medical personnel.

Coast Guard Petty Officer Nicole Groll said there were 84 passengers and crew aboard at the time of the incident.

Several passengers said the fog was incredibly thick and might have been a contributing factor. Coast Guard officials, however, say the incident remains under investigation.

"They will conduct interviews and do various exams and inspections that are required. We'll be collecting information and photographs from passengers from people that were witnesses," U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Hannah Gribbin said.

The hull of the ferry was reportedly breached during the accident, the Coast Guard said. Passengers described a large hole in the ferry, but said they were only in about three feet of water at the time.

The ferry freed itself from the bottom with the assistance of the current, but sustained damage, according to state police.

"We do have an ongoing marine casualty investigation, and once that's wrapped up, certainly we will have a better picture of exactly what happened," U.S. Coast Guard Chief Warrant OFC. T.J. Malvesti said.

MBTA officials said an assessment of the ferry showed no water ever entered the vessel. The ferry is scheduled to head to Gloucester Saturday where it will undergo repairs.

"The safety of our customers, our employees, and our vendors is our highest priority," MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak said in a statement. "We are offering our full support and cooperation to the United States Coast Guard, which is leading the investigation into the incident. We are also conducting an independent assessment of the damage to the vessel."

MBTA officials added that their ferry fleet includes backup vessels to ensure that regular service would not be interrupted while repairs are being made.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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