Dee Wertz, who was on shore waiting for the ferry, saw the impact. She said that just moments before the ferry hit, she had been having a conversation with a ferry employee about how the boat's captains had been complaining lately about its maneuverability.
"He was telling me that none of these guys like this boat," she said. "It was coming in a little wobbly. It hit the right side of the boat on the dock hard, like a bomb."
James Barker, the chairman of the ferry's owner, Seastreak LLC, said at a news conference hours after the crash it was "a terrible day for all of us."
"We are simply shocked and stunned that this happened," he said, adding that the company would work with investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board to determine what went wrong. "Our priority continues to be the people who are injured."
About 330 passengers and crew members were aboard the ferry, which had arrived from Atlantic Highlands, a part of the Jersey Shore still struggling to recover from Superstorm Sandy. Passenger Frank McLaughlin, whose home was filled with 5 feet of water in the late October storm, said he was thrown forward and wrenched his knee.
"We come in and do this every day, and so it just kind of glides in," he said. "It came in hard, and it was just a huge impact as we hit."