SURRY, Va. (WAVY) - New information has come to light about what caused a ferry to prematurely pull away, causing a car to fall into the river.
Earlier this month, 19-year-old Emma Fretts was driving onto the Jamestown-Scotland ferry when it began to pull away. Her car plunged into the James River, but she was able to escape.
Wednesday, WAVY.com learned the ferry captain left the wheelhouse before shipmates gave him the signal that all cars were loaded, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation.
Capt. Jack Goolsby was placed on suspension, then terminated by VDOT.
The agency is now recommending all crew members undergo an annual refresher course on loading procedures, which have now been changed, according to a VDOT report.
The loading procedure in place at the time of the incident included the following:
- When boarding is complete, a crew member gives an "all clear" signal by extended arm wave to the captain
- The captain acknowledges the signal by a return extended arm wave out the wheelhouse window facing the dock
- Then the captain moves to the opposite wheelhouse window and repeats the process.
Now that the boarding procedure has been changed, deckhands have to go up to the ferry captain and confirm face-to-face that the boat is ready to depart from the dock.
To read VDOT's full report on the incident and the changes made to the procedure, click here .
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