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Staten Island ferry captain ordered to talk

Michael Gansas
Michael Gansas

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Judge orders ferry captain to talk to investigators.
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CNN's Maria Hinojosa talks with New Yorkers who use the ferry service.
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CNN's Deborah Feyerick reports on the Staten Island ferry crash that killed 10 people.
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Disasters and Accidents
National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB)
New York

NEW YORK (CNN) -- A Staten Island ferry captain must face safety investigators Thursday morning to discuss a crash that killed 10 people last month or go to jail for contempt of court.

The captain, Michael Gansas, has defied a subpoena from National Transportation Safety Board investigators that was issued shortly after the crash.

On Wednesday, a judge ordered Gansas, 38, to report Thursday morning to the Staten Island Coast Guard station to talk with the investigators and to explain why he has defied the subpoena.

Gansas' attorney, Catherine Foti, indicated that her client would meet with investigators but did not say if he will answer questions.

Gansas, sitting upright, was silent throughout Wednesday's hearing.

Investigators want to ask the captain where he was before the ferry crashed. The safety board has said it has conflicting reports about Gansas' location.

The ferry, carrying about 1,500 passengers from Lower Manhattan across New York Harbor's Upper Bay to Staten Island, veered off course and slammed full speed into a pier October 15.

Ten people were killed and dozens more injured. Some passengers' limbs were severed, including one man who lost his legs but was kept alive with the help of a visiting British nurse.

The assistant captain, Richard Smith, who was piloting the boat, apparently passed out at the controls before the collision. Smith attempted suicide shortly after the crash, according to authorities. He remains hospitalized.

Gansas took control of the boat and steered it from the accident site to the terminal, National Transportation Safety Board investigator Marjorie Murtagh said in an affidavit after the crash.

City regulations call for both the captain and assistant captain to be inside the pilothouse when the boat is moving.

There are no data recorders, voice recorders or video recorders that keep track of activity.

Last month, the New York City Department of Transportation suspended Gansas and a mate, Robert Rush, without pay for failing to cooperate with officials investigating the crash.

The damaged ship, the 310-foot Andrew Barbieri, is at the Brooklyn Naval Yard and needs $8 million in repairs, according to the safety board.

CNN's Deborah Feyrick contributed to this report

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