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Pilot of Crashed NY Ferry Suspended Without Pay

Nov 7, 2003 | AP

The pilot of the Staten Island ferry that crashed into a pier last month, killing 10 people, was suspended without pay on Friday after he failed to provide a timetable to meet with investigators.

The pilot, Richard Smith, was suspended for failing to produce a timetable for meeting with the city Department of Transportation and the National Transportation Safety Board, which are investigating the crash, said Tom Cocola, a spokesman for the city agency.

Smith's lawyers told the city Thursday that he remains hospitalized and they do not know when he will be able to talk with investigators.

Smith was at the controls Oct. 15 when the ferry crashed into a pier on Staten Island, injuring dozens of people. He fled the scene and attempted suicide, slitting his wrists and shooting himself with a pellet gun.

The ferry's captain, Michael Gansas, met with investigators on Thursday, but refused to answer any questions about the deadly crash.

Officials said Gansas provided his name and age, but repeatedly invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination when it came to questions about the crash.

On Tuesday, City Department of Transportation Commissioner Iris Weinshall said a crew member had told city investigators Gansas was not in his required position in the wheelhouse to assist Smith as the ferry came in to dock, a violation of city policy.

The crew member also claimed Smith remained upright at the controls in the two minutes leading up to the crash.

Smith and Gansas had told emergency responders immediately after the wreck that Smith had passed out, possibly from blood pressure medication, and slumped over the controls.

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