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Coast Guard interviews witnesses, crew on Hyannis ferry crash

(WJAR)

Eighteen people were injured Friday when a high-speed ferry struck a jetty in Hyannispor and began taking on water, authorities said.

The U.S. Coast Guard and the Steamship Authority said the ferry Iyanough hit the jetty and grounded on the rocks at the Hyannis harbor entrance at about 10 p.m. The ferry serves a 26-mile route between Nantucket and Hyannis.

The Iyanough is operated by the Woods Hole, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket Steamship Authority, connecting the Massachusetts islands with the mainland. It can hold up to 400 people.

Steamship Authority general manager Wayne Lamson said Saturday it's still not clear what led to the crash and that an investigation is underway. He said the seas were about 4 feet and that the captain and the pilot may have had difficulty with the entrance to Hyannis in the harbor channel.

Maritime lawyer John Fulweiler said it will be a long road ahead for investigators trying to determine the cause. He said those injured may have less time to file claims as one would have in a car crash.

"You're going to have unique processes and procedures unlike what you see in the courtroom,” Fulweiler said.

The authority said in a statement that bad weather, strong winds and choppy seas are believed to have contributed to the grounding of the vessel.

There were 48 passengers, six crew members and three food service workers on board, according to the authority. Hyannis acting Fire Chief Dean Melanson said that a total of 18 people were injured. And of those, 15 people -- 13 passengers, one crew member and one food service worker -- were taken to a hospital. The other three underwent evaluations that did not require them to be hospitalized.

Melanson said the injuries included bumps and bruises and that one person had an asthma attack. None of the injuries was considered life-threatening.

A Cape Cod Hospital spokeswoman said the injured had been treated and released by noon Saturday.

“It’s a miracle,” Fulweiler said about the people injured.

Repairs are being made to the ferry in Fairhaven.

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