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Ferry Captain and Second Mate Placed on Leave after Collision

hyak_ferry.jpg
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Washington State Ferries has relieved a captain and a second mate of their duties following an accident in the San Juan Islands. Last Friday, a large ferry collided with a sailboat, sinking that much smaller craft.

A spokeswoman for the state ferry system says the captain and second mate of the ferry Hyak have been placed on paid administrative leave.

At the same time, the state has convened a Board of Inquiry to establish what went wrong Friday afternoon. The U.S. Coast Guard has launched a parallel investigation.

A Coast Guard spokesman reports the ferry crew members were given breathalyzer tests and all passed after the Hyak docked safely. Photos taken shortly after the collision show calm seas with decent visibility under low clouds.

An Olympic Peninsula man was the only person aboard the 25-foot sailboat. He was quickly rescued from his sinking vessel.

The man in his late-60s was then hospitalized with unknown injuries, but discharged over the weekend. No one aboard the Hyak was hurt.

The big ferry returned to service on the San Juan Islands run later in the day.

Tom Banse covers national news, business, science, public policy, Olympic sports and human interest stories from across the Northwest. He reports from well known and out–of–the–way places in the region where important, amusing, touching, or outrageous events are unfolding. Tom's stories can be found online and heard on-air during "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered" on NPR stations in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.