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Washington State Ferry Captain And Second Mate Placed On Leave After Collision


Last Friday, a large ferry collided with a sailboat, sinking that much smaller craft.

Washington State Ferries has relieved the ferry's captain and second mate of their duties following the accident in the San Juan Islands. A spokeswoman for the state ferry system says the captain and second mate of the ferry Hyak have been placed on paid administrative leave. At the same time, the state has convened a Board of Inquiry to establish what went wrong Friday afternoon.

The U.S. Coast Guard has launched a parallel investigation. A Coast Guard spokesman reports the ferry crewmembers were given breathalyzer tests and all passed after the Hyak docked safely.

Photos taken shortly after the collision show calm seas with decent visibility under low clouds.

An Olympic Peninsula man was the only person aboard the 25-foot sailboat. He was quickly rescued from his sinking vessel. The man, in his late-60s, was then hospitalized with unknown injuries, but discharged over the weekend.

No one aboard the Hyak was hurt.

The big ferry returned to service on the San Juan Islands run later in the day.

On the Web:

Vessel profile: MV Hyak- WSDOT

Now semi-retired, Tom Banse covered national news, business, science, public policy, Olympic sports and human interest stories from across the Northwest. He reported from well known and out–of–the–way places in the region where important, amusing, touching, or outrageous events unfolded. Tom's stories can be found online and were heard on-air during "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered" on NPR stations in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.