REPORT: VDOT issues recommendations after car plunges off ferry


by 13News Now

Posted on August 8, 2013 at 5:56 AM

Updated Wednesday, Oct 30 at 10:03 AM

UPDATE: VDOT released its report on the incident and found that the captain had left the wheelhouse facing the dock prior to the completion of the loading process without receiving the all clear signal. Read the 44-page report, which includes statements from witnesses and ferry crew.
The report recommends crew members take annual refresher training, to include the proper method of communication between the captain and crew, pre- and post-training testing should be given, and that communication procedures should be reviewed, and, as necessary, improvements made and training provided.

JAMESTOWN-Ferry service was back to normal before the morning rush on Thursday after a car that plunged into the river was removed.

It happened around 8:00 p.m. Wednesday on the Jamestown side of the James River as the ferry Surry was loading.

The driver of the 2006 Scion, 19-year-old Emma Fretts, was rescued from the water and appeared okay and was walking around, said Lauren Hansen, spokeswoman for the Va. Dept. of Transportation.

A wrecker service was called and removed the vehicle around 5:30 a.m. Thursday. Ferry service started at 5:45 a.m.

Va. State Police, James City County Police and the Coast Guard have launched a joint investigation. They will look at ferry malfunction, captain error and other issues since they believe the ferry pulled away as Fretts tried to board.

"The Coast Guard is taking this incident very seriously," said Capt. John Little, the commander of Coast Guard Sector Hampton Roads. "We are conducting an investigation to help ensure that situations like this do not happen again."

The captain of the boat, Jack Goolsby, was suspended pending the investigation and no longer works for VDOT.

The Surry was inspected by the Coast Guard and found to have not malfunctioned.  It returned to service Thursday afternoon.

VDOT says all operational and safety protocols and procedures associated with loading and unloading the ferry are under review by management.

Click here for more on the Jamestown-Scotland Ferry service.