Captain in NYC Ferry Crash Takes the 5th
By TOM HAYS, Associated Press Writer
NEW YORK - The captain of a Staten Island ferry that slammed into a pier, killing 10 people, repeatedly invoked his right against self-incrimination Thursday under questioning by federal investigators.
Capt. Michael Gansas, appearing before investigators for the first time, gave his name and age but refused to answer any questions about the Oct. 15 crash, said National Transportation Safety Board (news - web sites) Chairwoman Ellen Engelman.
"We hope we will be able to talk to Capt. Gansas again in the future," Engelman said.
The NTSB (news - web sites) has interviewed more than 50 witnesses, including every crew member except Gansas and pilot Richard Smith, who has been hospitalized since attempting suicide after the crash.
Gansas, 38, invoked the Fifth Amendment over and over during the court-ordered meeting with NTSB investigators. He left the Coast Guard station on Staten Island about two hours later without speaking to reporters.
City Transportation Commissioner Iris Weinshall was furious. "It's outrageous that Captain Gansas refused to share information about what happened on that day," she said in a statement.
Officials have said Smith was at the controls when the boat slammed into a concrete maintenance pier Oct. 15. But as captain, Gansas was required by city policy to be in the wheelhouse during docking. And a crewman told city investigators Gansas did not reach the wheelhouse until after the crash, Weinshall said Tuesday.
Gansas had avoided speaking with investigators before Thursday, with his lawyers arguing he was too traumatized to be interviewed. He ignored NTSB subpoenas until a federal judge on Wednesday ordered him to meet with NTSB investigators.
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