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Ferry Captain and Second Mate Placed on Leave after Collision

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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.

Correspondent Tom Banse is an Olympia-based reporter with more than three decades of experience covering Washington and Oregon state government, public policy, business and breaking news stories. Most of his career was spent with public radio's Northwest News Network, but now in semi-retirement his work is appearing on other outlets.