Relatives of last fall’s Staten Island ferry crash victims were angry yesterday to learn that the admittedly “reckless” pilot who passed out at the helm could serve just 33 months in prison, reports the New York Daily News. “He took 11 people’s lives – that’s three months a person, that’s not justice,” said Vincent Ferrante, whose son, Vincent Jr., died in one of New York’s deadliest maritime accidents. Before Assistant Capt. Richard Smith pleaded guilty to 11 manslaughter counts in Brooklyn federal court, several relatives wiped away tears as Judge Edward Korman solemnly read the names of the commuters whose lives were “destroyed.”
More anger followed prosecutors’ announcement that ferry Capt. Michael Gansas would be charged only with lying about being AWOL from the wheelhouse before the crash that ripped the 310-foot ferry from stem to stern. Gansas could face up to 5 years in prison, if convicted. He claims he was never told of regulations requiring him to be in the wheelhouse when the ferry was docking. The News says that the feds set up a likely confrontation with the city by indicting former ferry service director Patrick Ryan on manslaughter charges – even though he wasn’t aboard the ferry when it crashed into the concrete pier at the St. George terminal.