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Injured Passengers Describe Chaotic Scene When Ferry Crashed

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- There was a massive emergency response to Pier 11 when a ferry headed in from New Jersey hit the shore.

As CBS 2's Steve Langford reported Wednesday, at least 74 people were injured, and many passengers were left frightened, dazed and in a panic about their loved ones.

It was a chaotic scene in the aftermath of what should have been a routine landing on Wall Street.

Passengers at the hospital said the force of the impact was like a car crash.

"Everyone flew," added Tony Lucia of Alllenhurst, N.J. "Everyone just flew and people were on the ground."

Once the Seastreak Wall Street hit the dock, the scene was grim.

"A lot of bloody heads," said ferry passenger Frank McLaughlin.

"It didn't slow down," added Ashley Furman. "We went right into the pier."

Furman said she rides the ferry just about every morning and when it crashed into Pier 11, she blacked out.

"I remember having my eyes closed and flying in the air," Furman said. "The next thing I knew, I opened my eyes, and I was on the floor."

The wind was knocked right out of Furman's lungs. She said a stranger helped her get up, and then Furman assisted her friends, who were badly hurt.

"I stayed with two women that I knew, and they were bleeding and injured," she said.

Emergency crews carried patients off the dock on flat-board stretchers. All of the injured were taken to area hospitals, including New York Downtown Hospital, Lenox Hill, Roosevelt, Beth Israel and Cornell Hospital, CBS 2's Sean Hennessey reported.

Two were reported in critical condition.

At New York Downtown Hospital, 22 injured passengers were brought in en masse on gurneys and wheelchairs, some of them in obvious pain, CBS 2's Hennessey reported.

"I went flying about 30 feet forward," said Dale Connone of Rumsen, N.J.

And the types of injuries followed suit.

"I messed up my knees and my back, and my neck, but luckily I didn't hit any metal or glass," Connone said.

"I hit my chest on the table and some breathing problems. -- neck and shoulder problems," said Sheila Carson of Monmouth Beach, N.J.

Carson said the cruise was normal, but after the crash, "it just was mass chaos -- people falling down, falling down the stairs. My friend was thrown four rows up, from standing up to flat on her back. It was an ugly scene very fast."

"People were laying everywhere. There were at least 50 people on the ground in the first floor," Lucia said.

One person who fell down the stairs remained in critical condition Wednesday evening, and about a dozen others suffered serious injuries. The rest walked out of the hospital with injuries to their bodies, but said they would not hesitate to ride the ferry again.

And sure enough, many ferry commuters headed to the dock Wednesday evening to make their way home.

As CBS 2's Lou Young reported, Karen McCarty of Highland, N.J., went right from the hospital back to the ferry dock, where she was injured Wednesday morning, The excitement of the day seemed to have her a little off balance.

"I don't know what to do right now, because I really ... I don't know what to do," she said. "I don't know who to ask, even."

She just wanted to get home, and seemed amazed that her commute could be normal the way the day began, with only one boat out of service. Another of her fellow passengers, John Thomson, was on line for the 4:40 p.m. ferry.

"This boat would be the 5:55 out of 35th Street and the 6:10 from here," Thomson said. In the accident, he added, "some people got pretty banged up. My wife and I were on the boat but were just a little bruised, that's all."

Most of the people on line Wednesday evening had not been involved in the accident. No one seemed to consider another way home.

"I came in on the 12:20," said Gerry Caffrey of Fairhaven. "You get on a plane after you here about a plane crash, don't you?"

When asked if the situation was normal, Bob Barret of Rumson replied, "As far as I can tell; ask me in a half hour."

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