Bald Head Ferry runs aground; passengers hurt
Posted December 17, 2013
Southport, N.C. — A private ferry serving Bald Head Island ran aground near the mouth of the Cape Fear River near Battery Island Tuesday morning, injuring several passengers.
Bald Head Island Limited spokeswoman Joyce Fulton said the 64-foot ferry Adventure ran aground shortly after departing Southport at 9 a.m. for its 20-minute trip.
Fifty-three passengers and three crew members were on the ferry when it hit a sand bar.
Lt. Lane Munroe with the U.S. Coast Guard said three vessels responded and transported 13 injured passengers back to Southport, where ambulances were waiting.
Swift emergency response, he said, prevented further injuries.
"It really worked out well for the victims, as far as getting them to a higher level of care as quickly as we did," Munroe said.
Two people were being treated about 30 miles away at New Hanover Regional Medical Center in Wilmington, a hospital spokeswoman said. Their conditions were not immediately known.
Kirk Singer, spokesman for Dosher Memorial Hospital in Southport, said 12 people were transported there by ambulance and that seven other people walked into the hospital on their own for treatment.
"Most of the injuries that we were briefed on or saw today were non-life-threatening – mostly bruises and injuries that were the result of a fall," Munroe said.
Brunswick County spokeswoman Amanda Hutcheson, however, said one person was airlifted from the scene with potentially serious injuries.
Southport Mayor Robert Howard said the accident happened as the ferry was leaving the island and headed toward its dock in Southport.
It was unclear what caused the vessel to run aground, and the U.S. Coast Guard was investigating Tuesday.
"There's no real firm idea on why this happened at this point," Munroe said.
Passenger Matthew Fleming told the StarNews of Wilmington that it was like "hitting a brick wall" when the ferry ran aground. He said the impact sent several people flying, leaving numerous passengers bloodied.
"We were cruising along. I figure it was full throttle," a shaken and limping Fleming said as he came ashore from a Coast Guard rescue boat. "It was a dead stop."