Water Taxi Rams Seattle Dock, Passengers Hurt

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Water taxi service between West Seattle and downtown was on a regular schedule Monday after the vessel Rachel Marie crashed into the seawall Sunday, sending riders and furniture flying across the boat.

The crash was a scary and painful one for the taxi passengers making their way from West Seattle around 11:15 a.m. Sunday. Seven people were injured.

"My boyfriend said to me, 'this doesn't look right, something is not right' and then the boat just kept going and you could tell they were trying to stop it," said passenger Angie Morehead.

"We went straight in, full steam ahead. The engine was still on and we just cruised right into the dock," said passenger Andrew Harms.

73 people were onboard the King County Water Taxi. A lot of them were headed to the Seahawks game when something went wrong.

Passenger Leanna Hernandez says, "We seen the captain running around saying there was an emergency. They were like 'brace yourself for impact' and we did and we all flew forward. We seen people hit their heads on the window, people went unconscious. It was really scary."

The boat was off course and traveling at about 6 knots -- just under 7 miles per hour -- when it hit the public boat dock, which is a historic site next to Pier 50.

The crash left the water taxi with a crumpled bow and a smashed windshield. Inside, seats were tossed around along with passengers.

The Rachel Marie was just in dry dock undergoing maintenance and had only been back on the water since Wednesday. Investigators aren't sure if a mechanical problem with the engine, brakes, or steering might be to blame.

"We smashed into the wall and it was horrible. It was. It was horrible. The hardest impact I've ever felt," Morehead said.

Andrew Harms went on to say, "It threw everybody forward. A lot of people fell down onto the ground. It toppled over most of the seats on the lower level."

All of the injured -- including those on stretchers -- were taken to a nearby fire station, treated and released.

An Argosy Cruises vessel will be used until the Rachel Marie is repaired. Passengers in Seattle will board and disembark at Pier 54 until repairs at Pier 50 are complete.

The Rachel Marie's crew is on paid leave pending the results of routine mandatory drug and alcohol testing.

For updates and potential schedule adjustments, visit the King County Water Taxi's website: http://www.kingcounty.gov/transportation/kcdot/WaterTaxi/WestSeattleRoute.aspx

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