The pilot of the 2003 Staten Island ferry disaster that killed 11 people was sentenced yesterday to 18 months in prison, reports the New York Daily News. Smith, 57, was on a combination of prescription drugs when he faintedat the hem of the ship. Federal sentencing guidelines called for Smith to receive 12 to 18 months, not enough for many of the victims’ relatives who pleaded with the judge to impose a stiffer sentence. Prosecutors contended that Smith’s actions were reckless but Judge Edward Korman found that the captain was merely negligent. That cut Smith’s possible prison time in half.
The judge gave the city’s former ferry director, Patrick Ryan, one year and a day in prison for failing to enforce the city’s two-pilot rule, which might have prevented a crash. “These people did not intend to kill,” Korman said. Smith said: “My decision to work through the pain and exhaustion set this whole nightmare into motion. My responsibility to my passengers should have told me to go home.”