Injured passengers released from hospital; ferry still stuck - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

LISTEN: Frantic 911 calls help paint picture of BHI ferry accident

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The Bald Head Island Ferry was involved in an accident Tuesday morning and recovery operations are currently underway. The Bald Head Island Ferry was involved in an accident Tuesday morning and recovery operations are currently underway.
Bald Head Limited CEO Chad Paul said the 9 a.m. "Adventure Ferry" hit a sand bar around marker 16, which is located near Battery Island. Bald Head Limited CEO Chad Paul said the 9 a.m. "Adventure Ferry" hit a sand bar around marker 16, which is located near Battery Island.
According to Karen Ellison with Bald Head Island, the ferry was heading from Southport to Bald Head Island at the time of the accident. According to Karen Ellison with Bald Head Island, the ferry was heading from Southport to Bald Head Island at the time of the accident.

BALD HEAD ISLAND, NC (WECT) –The 911 calls from moments after the Bald Head Island ferry incident reveal the terrifying moments for those on board.

Several people who were taken to the hospital Tuesday morning after the Bald Head Island Ferry was involved in an accident have been treated and released.

Bald Head Limited CEO Chad Paul said the 9 a.m. "Adventure Ferry" hit a sand bar around marker 16, which is located near Battery Island.

According to Karen Ellison with Bald Head Island, the ferry was heading from Southport to Bald Head Island at the time of the accident.

Water temperatures on Tuesday were about 50 degrees. The ferry ride between Southport and Bald Head is typically takes 20 minutes.

According to the Coast Guard, a total of 53 passengers and three crew members were on the ferry at the time of the accident.

The Coast Guard said 13 people were injured, and are all expected to be okay. Officials said all injured passengers were taken to area hospitals for treatment and have since been released.

Brunswick County Emergency Services released the 911 call which highlights the frightening moments for everyone on board.

911: Brunswick County 911, what's your emergency?

Caller: Sit down, tilt your head back!

911: Hello?

Caller: Do we have any medical people?

911: Hello?

Caller: Hello? Hello.

911: Brunswick County 911

Caller: Hello, we're on the Bald Head Island Ferry. It has come to an abrupt stop in the channel, and we have injured people that were thrown to the deck.

911: Hang on one second for medical dispatch.

Caller: Thank you.

911: What's the address? Hello?

Caller: Hello? I think the captain of the Bald Head Island Ferry is in touch. We have come to an abrupt stop in the channel and we have injured people on board.

911: How many injured people?

Caller: Umm…from my vantage point, I can see four or five.

911: Four people injured?

Caller: at least four or five…the boat stopped in the…

911: Y'all were stopped in the channel?

Caller: Yes it's in the channel, and I'm sure the boat captain has already called but I wanted to…

911: What, what, how were they injured?

Caller: We have a broken nose, we've got some passengers thrown to the floor…

911: How did they get a broken nose and how did, how did that happen?

Caller: The ferry came to an abrupt stop.

911: Ok. The ferry just stopped and threw everybody down?

Caller: Yes.

911: Do you know what channel marker you're at?

Caller: Umm, we're…we're directly, we're in the channel, directly in front of the ugh…pier.

911: In front of the pier?

Caller: In front of the pier at Southport and across from umm the Baptist assembly at Fort Caswell.

911: How many did you say? Four or five?

Caller: From what I can see…I'm in the back of the boat.

911: Nobody was thrown in the water were they?

Caller: No

911: Four or five that's been…did y'all hit something in the water?

Caller: Pardon me?

911: Did y'all hit something in the water? Ma'am, did ya'll hit something in the water?

Caller: I don't know.

911: All right, what is your name?

Caller: I'm Caroline Sheppard.

911: Do what? What is your name?

Caller: My name is Carolina Sheppard. I feel sure the boat captain has called someone.

911: And you're in front of the Southport pier?

Caller: We're out in the channel, we're a good ways from the pier, but if you…we're more or less beside Fort Caswell.

911: You're beside Fort Caswell?

Caller: Yes.  And directly in front of the Southport…We're just past Battery Island.

We also spoke to passengers as they exited the boat on Tuesday morning.

"One lady was hurt pretty badly," said Jason Floyd. "Looked like she had broken ribs, it was scary."

"Everybody got thrown around on the boat," said Rey Flores. "I got thrown backwards and hit my arm. I got up and started walking around to make sure everyone was ok. It was just crazy!"

The Coast Guard helped all other passengers onto another boat that took them to the EMS watch station for evaluation.

According to Brian Watts with EMS, one person was air lifted to NHRMC with potentially serious injuries. That person has since been treated and released.

One day after the accident, Brunswick County emergency crews are re-evaluating their work. Emergency crews from 18 different agencies across the county responded to the scene. More than a dozen patients were taken to the hospital, making this the largest mass casualty in the county since the Ocean Isle Beach deck collapse back in July. Watts says the emergency teams learned a lot from that particular incident, including better traffic patterns for emergency vehicles and improved patient accountability.

"All of our patients had to go through an area where they could be accounted for," said Watts. "We were also able to use a pre-plan form that got all the information that we would need later when we're accounting for all the patients that we transfer. So those lessons learned, we put into effect yesterday and it made the scene move a lot smoother."

Watts says the team will use the next few days to evaluate what they did and make any necessary adjustments on their end.

It is unclear at this time what caused the accident and members of the Coast Guard are investigating.

The Coast Guard attempted to tug the boat out of the sand Wednesday morning, but attempts to re-float the ferry were unsuccessful.

Now, the ferry boat owner (Bald Head Island Limited) will need to come up with a new salvage plan before another attempt.

The Coast Guard will review the plan and then attempt to execute it if approved.

The Adventure's transponder continues to send signals of it's location. The location where the ship has run aground is farther east than any other reported time in the last 24 hours.

The transponder also tells the story of the ships movements before running aground.  At 9:13 a.m. the ship was traveling south at 18 knots (20 mph), then suddenly at 9:14 a.m. the transponder reported 0.0 knots, as movement quickly stopped.

According to a spokesperson for Bald Head Island Limited, the captain of the boat which was involved in the accident has not returned to work.

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