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January 19, 2006

NY ferry commuters don lifejackets

Commuters aboard the NY Waterways ferry Peter Weiss were ordered to put on life jackets yesterday as heavy winds battered the northeast.

Coast Guard Station New York and New York Police Department escorted the ferry to Pier 11 in Manhattan yesterday after receiving reports the ferry was taking on water near the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge at 7:56 a.m.

Tom Beckendorff, the Peter Weiss's master, reported that the ferry was taking on water over its side. Winds were reported at 34 knots sustained with gusts to 50+ knots and waves of two-to-four feet in the harbor.

The master ordered the 149 passengers to put on life jackets as a personal safety precaution.

No injuries were reported.

"I applaud Tom Beckendorff's prudent decision to order the passengers to don lifejackets," said Captain Glenn A. Wiltshire, Coast Guard Captain of the Port for New York and New Jersey. "I'm sure the passengers were a bit concerned, but as professional mariners our first and foremost priority is protecting the lives of our passengers. He did the right thing, and 149 passengers safely reached their destination with an interesting story to tell."

Statistically eight out of every ten people who die in a boating accidents were not wearing life jackets. Wearing a life jacket greatly increases chances of survival.

The Coast Guard is investigating the incident.