JAMES CITY COUNTY, Va. (WAVY) - The Jamestown-Scotland ferry is open again after a vehicle fell into the James River Wednesday night.
VDOT spokeswoman Lauren Hansen said vehicles were still boarding the ferry when it began pulling away from the pier around 8 p.m. A woman's vehicle sitting halfway on the ferry and halfway on the loading ramp fell into the James River as a result.
A witness told WAVY.com the ferry was still moored to the dock and only a few cars had loaded onto the boat when it began to pull away. The witness said the driver of the vehicle rolled down her window, climbed out and stood on top of her car as it sunk to the bottom of the river.
The female victim got to the surface of the water on her own, but there is no word yet on how she got to shore, according to Coast Guard Sector Hampton Roads spokesman Jim Brendle. James City County rescue workers examined the woman and found her unharmed.
The woman's vehicle was removed from the water just before 6 a.m. Thursday.
State Police tell 10 On Your Side the victim is a 19- year-old woman from Courtland, but they would not release her name. State Police say no charges will be filed against her.
The Coast Guard, and Virginia State Police are both conducting an investigation into the incident.
VDOT spokeswomen Hansen says the ferry involved in the accident is called the "Surry." The captain, Jack Goolsby, has been a VDOT employee since September 25, 2012 and is now under investigation. He has been placed on pre-disciplinary leave, pending the completion of the investigation.
Hansen said Goolsby and all his crew members were tested for alcohol and drug use.
VDOT says the minimum qualifications for a VDOT ferry captain are U.S. Coast Guard License of Master 1600 gross tons, on inland waters; Radar Observer Certificate; Marine Radio Operator Permit, and Transportation Worker Identification Card.
Marine inspectors with the Coast Guard said there is no damage to the ferry and it is now operational.
According to Coast Guard records, the "Surry" was inspected in June and needed to fix its emergency lighting and an exit sign on the passenger deck. Both problems were fixed after the June inspection.
VDOT's preliminary investigation of the "Surry" shows it did not malfunction Wednesday night. All operational and safety protocols and procedures associated with loading and unloading the ferry are under review by VDOT management.
“We are acting swiftly to complete our investigation and are coordinating with Virginia State Police and the United States Coast Guard,” said VDOT District Administrator, Jim Utterback. “Those found responsible will be held accountable. We are unaware of a similar incident of this nature in the past decade and will take necessary measures to ensure the public’s safety when using the Jamestown-Scotland Ferry Service.”
Call 1-800-VA-FERRY for more information on the ferry.
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