May 10, 2012 | Vol. 39, No. 19

Passengers barely felt impact of crash into Ocean Beauty dock

Passengers of the M/V Matanuska said they barely felt the impact when the ferry crashed into Ocean Beauty Seafoods on Monday.

None of the 60 passengers aboard the M/V Matanuska were injured when the incident occurred around 1 p.m.

According to Petersburg resident John Bringhurst, who was a passenger at the time, the impact was barely felt from the observation deck where he was standing.

“I was a little distracted. I was talking to my wife,” Bringhurst said as the M/V Matanuska began a 360-degree turn. “Then my wife said, 'John, what is he doing?'”

“It looked like we were docking way too early,” he said.

When Bringhurst realized the ferry was turning too soon, he barely had time to shout out to the other passengers to have a seat and brace themselves for the impact.

“I could tell with every maneuver [the captain] could make, it wasn't working,” Bringhurst said. “We just kind of crunched in the back of Ocean Beauty. It was just weird from our point. They just kept going and kept going and no one had an idea why.”

According to Bringhurst, the impact wasn't as strong as he had anticipated, and that it didn't knock anyone off their feet. Passengers in the cabins may not have felt much of an impact at all, he added.

Bringhurst said, just a few minutes earlier the M/V Matanuska was traveling at “quite a clip,” as it headed toward the ferry dock.

“It was going maybe 3 or 4 knots as we actually hit,” he said.

Another Petersburg resident, Milinda May, had been videotaping the journey through the Wrangell Narrows when she felt the ferry turn and heard the horn blow. She managed to capture the entire incident.

May, 44, who had been traveling with her husband and three children, said she had just purchased the camera and was practicing filming.

“It was just serendipitous that something like this happened,” she said.

May said, the impact was not very strong, but it was loud. “It was more of an audio impact rather than a physical impact,” she said.

“It was supposed to be a 'de-stress' trip, but it became a welcome home with a bang,” May added.

The video May shot can be found on YouTube, on the AK Insight channel, labeled “Matanuska Ferry Crash,” she said.

After the impact, the M/V Matanuska backed up toward the ferry dock to let the passengers off.

“It was weird. They just let us go. They didn’t make an announcement or anything,” said May.

The U.S. Coast Guard cleared the M/V Matanuska to return to service about two hours after the accident.

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