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Crash probe eyes ferry engine data, video

Emergency personnel at scene of a ferry accident

Emergency personnel at scene of a ferry accident in lower Manhattan Wednesday morning. (Jan. 9, 2012) Credit: C.S. Muncy

Federal investigators Friday retrieved footage from the cameras on the commuter ferry that crashed into a Manhattan slip Wednesday and also waited for engine data to be downloaded.

"Today we had breakthroughs on two different fronts," Robert Sumwalt, of the National Transportation Safety Board, told reporters in Manhattan.

The NTSB lab in Washington, D.C., pored over images from six closed-circuit television cameras on the Seastreak Wall Street, footage that showed passengers being flung forward in the crash at the end of the morning trip from Atlantic Highlands, N.J.

Each camera, including two in the engine rooms, has about an hour of footage, Sumwalt said.

More than 80 of the 326 passengers were hurt, two critically, and Sumwalt wants to look at injury patterns, including whether passengers were standing or sitting and their locations.

To get more evidence, investigators held off restarting the vessel until a specialist from the engine manufacturer could arrive from Michigan Saturday with equipment to download data. That could show whether the engines, retrofitted in July, had failed and would not go in reverse, as the captain told investigators Thursday.

"We were informed by the engine manufacturer that the engine control unit captures data that may shed light on why the engines shut down during the accident sequence," Sumwalt said.

NTSB also asked people to send accounts and video of the crash to "There is so little data, that whatever is available we need to capture it," Sumwalt said.

The team of 11 investigators spent Friday surveying the damage on the boat and riding other Seastreak vessels to observe their procedures. Saturday, after the engine data is downloaded, they plan to test the high-speed ferry's steering system and other components. With Ellen Yan

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