Local News

Bald Head Ferry runs aground; passengers hurt

Posted December 17, 2013

— 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."

60 Comments

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  • btneast Dec 18, 10:30 a.m.

    Why doesn't the State of NC pay any of the fare for this ferry? It connects a town in NC with the mainland just like other ferries do. Seems like the Mitchells have a sweet deal going with State of NC making money here.

    Is BHI an incorporated town? I don't think so. It's a private resort. The state has nothing to do with BHI.

  • btneast Dec 18, 10:28 a.m.

    Looks like he over ran his sonar. Shifting sand bar are pretty common in that area. Hope the injury won't too bad.

    Sonar, or a depth finder, only tells you the depth right under you boat. At any speed, the depth you are reading on the screen is what you have already passed over. It does not show the depth in front of your boat. If you rely on the depth finder to avoid shallow water, you will run aground a lot.

  • Lightfoot3 Dec 18, 8:53 a.m.

    "I'll bet that the captain cut the corner and didn't stay inside the buoys." - Nope

    Yep, that's what I think probably happened too. I was the navigator on a two mast sailboat one summer. Captain disregarded my plotted course and "cut the corner", getting us tangled up in shallow water and crab pots.

  • noonya Dec 17, 7:06 p.m.

    High tide at Bald Head today was 7:17am, low tide was 1:25pm.

  • Rebelyell55 Dec 17, 6:29 p.m.

    Don't forget they just had some pretty heavy rain down there, and most fields are bare right now.

  • Rebelyell55 Dec 17, 6:07 p.m.

    Looks like he over ran his sonar. Shifting sand bar are pretty common in that area. Hope the injury won't too bad.

  • BULLDOZER Dec 17, 5:33 p.m.

    The reason it is not a state run Ferry is that BHI would then have to take all of the rules and regulations that go along with accepting the NC ferry. They and its residents would rather keep it private and pay their own way.

  • Honesty first Dec 17, 4:56 p.m.

    Why doesn't the State of NC pay any of the fare for this ferry? It connects a town in NC with the mainland just like other ferries do. Seems like the Mitchells have a sweet deal going with State of NC making money here.

  • Obamacare for one and all Dec 17, 4:42 p.m.

    Why don't they just pour concrete into the sound and call it a day? Should alleviate sand shifting and hidden sandbars.

  • Offshore Dec 17, 4:39 p.m.

    Can one get highway hypnosis on the water?

    mattcli

    Yup

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