Tardy ferry passenger injured in flying leap

A 39-year-old Gig Harbor man anxious to get to work on time was instead taken to the hospital Wednesday morning after leaping onto a ferry just before it pulled away from the Southworth Ferry Terminal, according to the Washington State Patrol.

Lt. Travis Matheson said the man had paid a walk-on fare for the 6:40 a.m. sailing from Southworth on the M/V Klahowya but did not load with the other passengers.

By the time the man came out and attempted to walk on the ferry, Matheson said the dock workers had already lowered the arm blocking traffic, untied the boat from the dock and the vessel was preparing to leave.

“The apron (the part of the dock that attaches to the boat) was raised, and the attendant closest to him told him he could not get on the ferry, but he pushed past her and ran right down to the boat,” he said, explaining that the man pushed past at least one more employee on the dock, proclaiming that he could not be late for work, then “leapt” onto the ferry.

“He clearly thought he needed to be at work,” Matheson said, explaining that although the man made it onto the boat, he injured his leg. The boat was then delayed 20 minutes as an ambulance was called, which later transported the man to Harrison Hospital.

Matheson said both the Coast Guard and the WSP responded to the incident.

“The troopers who interviewed the man afterwards said he was very friendly, and he understood what he did was wrong,” Matheson said, explaining that although the man has not been cited or arrested so far, all the information collected from officers and witnesses regarding the incident have been forwarded to the Kitsap County Prosecutor’s Office.

Matheson said in light of the shooting this week of an airline passenger reportedly behaving erratically at Miami International Airport, citizens need to be aware of how their actions can be interpreted by transportation workers.

All in all, Matheson said the man was lucky, especially since he was not more seriously injured.

“He is fortunate that he didn’t fall into the water,” he said.

Washington State Ferries reported that the sailing “departed approximately 20 minutes late due to medical activity,” and that the 7 a.m. passenger-only sailing from Vashon to Seattle was held for the delayed Klahowya passengers.

WSF spokeswoman Susan Harris-Huether said it is fortunately not all that common for people to jump to catch ferries, even though at least one movie may have given the impression that it was possible.

“Blame it on Michael Douglas in ‘Disclosure,’” Harris-Huether said, explaining that the movie has Douglas’ character running — and jumping — to catch a Bainbridge Island ferry.

While Douglas makes the boat in the movie, however, she said the reality is very different.

“If you are told that you are not making the boat, it is for a reason — you are not making the boat,” she said, explaining that walk-on passengers are told to be ready at least five minutes before the posted departure times, since they are loaded first.

She added that it is important for all passengers to follow instructions given them by the crew, because they are usually given for the passenger’s own safety.

“He could have fallen in the (water), and been hit by the propeller,” she said.

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