I Survived Today’s Staten Island Ferry Crash

I know that we should not believe in bad luck omens. It’s stupid to do so. But I’ve had too many weird things happen in my life to entirely discount them. Take that as you will, but keep reading.

So this morning I had to go into the city early from Staten Island.

I walked to the ferry terminal. And here is where the bad luck omens come in.

I happen to go to cross a street and look down and there’s a dime on the asphalt. This has happened to me about ten times over the past three years, suddenly coming across a dime like that. And the rest of the day usually has bad luck in it. I wasn’t going to pick up the dime, but I did. Because it turns out the bad luck doesn’t go away by not taking the dime. This is like some bizarre quantum effect — just seeing the dime invokes the bad luck. Or at least is a warning of it coming.

So I keep walking. At some point again, totally unplanned, I look down at the sidewalk, and there’s a dead bird. Just like the dime, this has happened several times to me the past few years. See dead bird, get bad luck.

Oh crap.

I keep walking. And again, at one point, I look down, and there’s another dime! Three bad luck omens in a row! And, yes, I took the dime. At the very least, I figure if I’m hit up for change by one of the homeless at the terminal, I can give them the two dimes.

I get on the 6:30 ferry. Nothing happens to me during the trip. In fact, I catch a light nap. I’m not thinking at all about the bad luck because I figure I already know how that will manifest itself (and that part is none of your business). And everything is OK while I’m in the city.

Then I get a text to come back to Staten Island early. I could have gotten on the 9AM ferry, but I didn’t want to rush. The 9:30AM ferry would be fine.

And that’s what I get. The Barberi. Today known as The Ferry of Doom.

I try to nap on the ferry, but I can’t, I’m restless. I don’t think anything of this. I should have paid more attention!

The standard canned announcement comes over the loudspeaker that we’re approaching the dock. I open my eyes a few seconds later and notice that we’ve gotten to the Staten Island side very quickly. Usually that announcement happens too damned early. There’s still ten minutes or so until we dock. This time, we’re eerily closer.

I stand up and stretch and then I notice the wooden dock whizzing by me very fast.

And then one of the executive ferry staff — one of the staff who I believe is supposed to be driving the damned ferry, because he’s wearing a pressed white shirt — walks with speed through my area yelling “Brake! Brake! Brake!!”

I think I might have yelled to the people around me, “We’re too fast! We’re going to crash! Brace yourselves!!”

And as soon as that gets out of my mouth, two things hit my mind:

1) I’m on the left side of the ferry, in the front fifth. People died on the left side of a ferry several years ago during a crash.

2) Am I going to die on this ferry?

I don’t have time to sort out what to do, so I just try to brace myself against a seat that runs parallel to the front.

Just as that happens — BOOM!


We have zero slowing down. We had zero engines kicking into reverse. We went straight into the damned thing!

As soon as I saw I wasn’t going to die and wasn’t injured (I have a slightly sore neck, big deal!), I go to the front to see if other people are OK.

Shockingly, a couple who had been on the upper deck — the deck itself! — were uninjured. The guy’s pants showed he was probably knocked to the ground, but he’s otherwise OK.

There are several men who are sitting on the steps leading to the upper deck. They look shaken and later claim to be injured. But I saw no bruises or blood.

The worst one is this older Chinese lady. She was either at the top of or on the sloping ramp leading to the lower deck. She is flat down, diagonally, her feet higher than her head. But there is no blood. She says she has a head or a neck injury and can’t get up.

I look out the doors to the lower deck and it’s a full-out disaster. The big ground-level platform has been thrust inward and the connecting area at the rear of it has been driven skyward. Apparently, that’s where the ramp motors are and there’s smoke emanating from them. Not a big cloud or anything, but you can see a pall and smell it.

I then go back to my level and raise up a window to look out the side. The ferry is driven right into the concrete of the terminal!

They have totally destroyed a second dock of the terminal!

Now here is what really really pisses me off and calls for a deep investigation and justifies any lawsuits that are going to happen.

The ferry staff had time to warn us of a crash.

If I could see we were coming in fast after the canned announcement, they damned well could too. They might have had only twenty seconds leeway, but they could have at least told people, “We’re going to crash. Everyone lie down flat on the floor!”

We had none of that. We had zero warning. I’m not even sure the ferry officer in the white shirt was addressing us when he was yelling “Brake! Brake! Brake!” Everything happened so fast, I couldn’t tell if he was talking to us or yelling into a radio (which they are all supposed to have on their person).

Emergency firemen and cops arrived and maybe after fifteen minutes, they’d set up a metal ramp to get us onto the lower-level exit platform, which was now three-to-four feet above where it was meant to be, and a wooden ramp to get us onto ground-level. I saw one guy with a windbreaker that had “NYPD Detective” on it, talking to a passenger who’d gotten off the ferry. I don’t know if they wanted witness accounts or not. I stood watching for a few seconds and since no one said we should stick around to give a statement, and I saw other people just walking away, I left.

There were plenty of people on the ferry with cameras and cellphone cameras. I wasn’t one of them. But you’re bound to see pictures and read accounts that jibe with my own story here.

As for me, I hope the two dimes and one dead bird are all the damned bad luck I’m going to have for today!

30 responses to “I Survived Today’s Staten Island Ferry Crash

  1. What an incredible story, Mike. Glad you’re still in one piece. As you say, maybe we’re looking at a some kinda quantum effect with the three dimes. Naturally, I get a lotta people come to me talking about luck and runs of bad luck. I always try to play it down coz it can be self-perpetuating.

    But now and gain you get stories like yours…

    You might find this odd. Just about the time your crash happened (I’m UK time as you know) I’d set up my guitar and an amp to test out some homemade video footage. I decided to improvise the songs, the music and lyrics, just thought “what the hell,” you know. And one of the lyrics that came out (without thinking) was “Got the bad luck blues, down in Staten Island, gotta move on down to the swampland, meet the devil to fix my luck down in the graveyard, throw down my bad city dime….”

    I’ve got a whole mythos about lucky coins.

    Odd thing was I sang that lyric because you came into my head. Had this picture of Staten and then heading off to the South.

    When you make up things on the spot you spin off anything that jumps into your head.

    Quantum effect? Who knows…

  2. So very very glad you were okay! Be careful about the neck, okay?

  3. Eh. Nothing but being shaken up unexpectedly. I’m just glad the damned ferry went absolutely *straight* into the dock. If they had come in hitting either side of the wooden docks, there would have been plenty of injuries, maybe even deaths.

  4. You said it yourself, everything happened so quickly. So how did you expect in 20 seconds for staff to react and run to an overhead microphone to make an announcement “were gonna crash”. Are you serious? You can’t announce that, it causes panic and two. What’s more important, trying to operate the ferry or making an announcement that will scare everyone?

  5. Not to make light of a very serious incident … but my experience with New Yorkers, generally, is a lot of them can;t remember when to slow down …

  6. Glad you’re okay; hate the bad omens. Looked up to see a vulture circling me on Thursday. Then 3 bad things happened to my spouse, in under an hour.
    Get some rest–you must be pretty rattled.

  7. Hahahahaha. Well, the people who weren’t injured were eager to disembark the ferry!

  8. I was thinking more about it and they had to have known further out that they had no reverse thrust. But the twenty seconds I stated was all about the ferry officer in the white shirt who was strangely on my deck — instead of being in the Pilot House. He had time to tell everyone to get down instead of uselessly shouting “Brake! Brake! Brake!” I’m just glad we went straight in. If we had bounced off the wooden dock we might have sheared the sides and there could have been a lot more injuries and maybe even deaths. After the crash several years ago, they drastically changed things. All the crew have radios, uniforms, patrol the ferry, and they do this recorded docking announcement. Now they will have to develop a procedure to test reverse thrust further out. The trip will probably become longer for safety reasons.

  9. Glad you’re okay, Mike.


  10. Pingback: Staten Island ferry crash: 3 bad luck omens and BOOM he was on the ferry of doom | Dr Snake's Spells & Magick For All Your Needs

  11. Really really glad you are safe and sound. Get your neck looked at, though – promise.

  12. Nah. It’s just a minor muscle sprain, no big deal. A night’s sleep will put it right again.

  13. Whoa, glad you’re all right!

  14. Sometimes that ferry is absolutely packed with hundreds of tourists. This morning it strangely wasn’t. This could have been an absolute disaster had they all been on the boat too!

  15. Glad you are ok! That is wild that you ended up on it. We still have pix of the family on the ferry when we lived at Ft Wadsworth.

  16. liar.
    the crash happened at 9:15. How could you have been on the boat that crashed when you got onthe 9:30 ferry?

  17. Pingback: staten island ferry crash 2010 | TrendyTwits

  18. No. I was on the damned ferry. Call it shock if I got the time wrong. It’s not a timing factor I usually pay attention to because the ferry is every half hour.

  19. I’m with you, kuso. Something here smells like fishy, and it’s not the stench of staten island.

  20. I’m really glad you’re ok. Stop looking down at your feet when you’re walking around, will you?

  21. Dan Miller

    I’m very glad you’re okay. They are starting to make it sound like there was mechanical (not human) error and may not have known they were out of control. I know you’ve posted the Tweets about the Toyota comparison. Funny thing is: I was just running a conference at the Hyatt in Jersey City and watching the boats go back and forth from the ninth floor conference room and thinking that it had become such a routine.

    When the earlier crash happened, there was lore about the skipper not backing off the throttle when he saw some particular marker along the starboard side, and I thought, “why isn’t this all programmatic by now. But it seems like each trip is like the first time… and perhaps that’s a testimonial to the human race’s will to, well, keep things human.

    We’ve had a number of accidents on BART or Muni where the train operator runs into the back of a stopped train or something else that could have been prevented by “passive systems” to detect and prevent collisions. But there’s always resistance.

    Like I said, I’m glad you’re okay.

  22. See my timeline post:

    I’m not that kind of attention whore.

  23. andrew Meit

    I believe you. Was it you talking with some new reporter over a cell phone I heard on TV (Saw Mike Cane name on screen) CNN?? Just glad your ok. Give yourself some time to recover.
    Has the kittens gotten any milk from a dropper?? Just going by what a friend did once for very small kittens. Hang in there.

  24. Two coins for the ferryman. Perhaps?

  25. I read about this, Mike, and to think that you were there…

    Well, glad you walked away intact AND with an incredible and never to be repeated (hopefully) experience under your belt.

    Glad you’re still with us, old sport.

  26. Pingback: Gotham – первый блог о Нью-Йорке » Blog Archive » Катастрофа парома Staten Island Ferry

  27. OK, you are shell-shocked and you screwed up the time. But, mr drama whore, it was the right side, the jersey side, of the boat that was the death side. WTF about your luck. You had a lucky day: you found money, the dead bird did not poop on your head, you lived through the day. you did not get hit by a truck.
    So in short, the boat had a rough docking, and you were not one of the 50 people treated for injuries.

  28. Maurice Canuel

    Good to see that you are still alive…..

  29. I’ll have to take your word that it was the right side because every photo I’ve seen showed what I thought was the left. That day, I was in the city seeing a movie and ferry service was suspended for that night. And no, it was not a good day, and the bad luck I experienced outside of this is personal.

  30. Yes, that was me. They saw my tweet and then my post and asked to speak to me. Since people wanted to know what happened, I thought it was my duty to let them know. And when I stated I saw about ten people injured, that was in my area. I didn’t go throughout the entire ferry. The number of injured seems very high to me. Might be some scammers in there.