When 159 passengers boarded a party boat in North Carolina, they were expecting a great night. Thirty minutes after the boat departed, however, many were shaken and 15 ended up sustaining injuries when the vessel slammed into a pier.
A Coast Guard investigation showed that the steering pump failed, which caused the 120-foot boat to lose control. According to reports from the investigation, the captain was the first to notice the boat was not steering as he was navigating the vessel at the time. He called a crewmember to steer for him and went below deck to try to fix the steering pump. However, it was too late. The vessel was turned sideways by the current and crashed into the pier before the captain could fix the steering pump.
Many passengers aboard lost their balance and fell upon impact. The company that rents out the boat for parties received a lot of backlash on social media from outraged passengers claiming the crew never warned them of the impending crash. The fishermen on the pier received quite a scare as well, though none sustained injuries. The pier itself received substantial damage along a 16-foot area.
Crew Members of Party Boat Dropped the Ball in This Scenario
Several questions remain as to how this situation could have been avoided. No one could have predicted the steering pump would fail, but the crew could have done a better job to communicate to the passengers they were experiencing mechanical issues and remind passengers to remain calm. The crewmembers, who most likely saw the boat approach the pier, should have taken care to warn the passengers that there might be an impact. If they had done so, the passengers could have braced themselves against something stable and many would likely not have fallen and fewer would have sustained injuries.
Moreover, why did the steering pump fail? Was it defective? If that’s the case, the manufacturer may be held liable. On the other hand, did the company who owns the boat simply not properly maintain it? If that is the case, the company put all of its passengers and crew at risk.