Ferry engineer alleged to have fallen asleep while docking to be reinstated

A Staten Island Ferry engineer who was said to have fallen asleep in the control room as the boat was docking will get his job back — plus about $20,000 in unearned overtime. Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Lynn Kotler reinstated Chief Marine Engineer Timothy Wood, 47, to his post, overruling city officials who feared that he could cause a fatal crash, reports the New York Post. Wood was caught on the vessel’s live camera feed asleep in a chair as Staten Island Ferryboat John F Kennedy pulled into its berth during the morning rush hour on September 22nd, 2015.

Wood, responsible for directing the ferry’s propulsion equipment and steering engines, was the only person in the control room at the time, according to the ruling. He was immediately removed from his post and agreed to a 30-day unpaid suspension. The city then tried to demote Wood to marine engineer, citing a fatal 2003 ferry crash that was caused by sleeping personnel. “The DOT has the right, duty, and responsibility to use all measures necessary to prevent another horrific tragedy like that of 2003,” city attorney Monica Pogula argued in court papers. Wood’s union replied in court papers that “there is no prohibition on closing your eyes while on duty.”

Wood lost out on 340 hours of overtime, the lawyer said. The Marine Engineers’ Beneficial Association took the matter to an arbitrator, who restored Wood’s chief engineer position and the lost overtime.

Judge Kotler upheld the arbitrator’s award, saying that courts typically shy away from interfering with collective-bargaining agreements. She added that city lawyers failed to prove that Wood “imposes a real risk to public safety.” A New York City administration spokesman said that “The city is disappointed with this decision and we are considering our options”.