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Captain, Crew Face Manslaughter Charges as Man Drowns Trying to Board Ferry

Blue Horizon ferry
Ferry Blue Horizon was departing when the man attempted to board the stern ramp (C Messier photo - CC BY-SA 4.0 license)

Published Sep 6, 2023 3:58 PM by The Maritime Executive

The captain and three other members of the crew of the Greek inter-island ferry Blue Horizon have been detained and are facing manslaughter charges after a man attempting to board the departing ferry drowned. Passengers aboard the ferry reported the incident and have been posting videos to social media showing the man apparently being pushed off the stern ramp of the ferry as it leaves the dock and not assisted by the crew.

Many of the details are still uncertain as the investigation is ongoing but the coroner in Piraeus, Greece confirmed late today that the 36-year-old male named Andonis Kargiotis had drowned. The unconscious body was pulled from the harbor as the ferry sailed away and taken to the hospital where his death was confirmed. Some passengers are contending he was sucked under and hit by a propeller after being pushed into the harbor, but the autopsy reportedly cites water inhalation and only a small laceration on the head.

In the video, Kargiotis can be seen running and getting onto the stern ramp of the ferry Blue Horizon on Tuesday night. Two crewmembers standing inside rush out and push him back on to the dock. The vessel is beginning to depart having dropped its lines and Kargiotis tries to get back onto the ramp when a scuffle occurs and passengers on the upper decks are insisting that he was pushed into the harbor. The video from the dock clearly shows a second person approaching and standing on the dock watching as the incident unfolds.

The 13,650 gross ton ferry can accommodate nearly 1,500 passengers and was reported to be very busy as it departed Piraeus for Heraklion, Crete. The ferry is scheduled to depart at 21:00 and it is a nine-hour overnight trip. 

 

 

Horrified passengers looked on as the incident unfolded and when the ferry did not stop and attempt to assist the man reports are they began calling the local authorities. The ship was reportedly sailing for 40 to 50 minutes before the authorities ordered it to return to Piraeus. When it returned, they boarded the ship and began questioning the passengers and crew. Some reports are that a second ferry that was nearby and also preparing to depart was detained so the authorities could gather information from its passengers and crew.

The captain of the Blue Horizon, the first mate, a deck officer who was supervising the loading ramp, and a boatswain were reportedly all detained and taken into custody. They were expected to appear before a local magistrate with the reports being they would all be charged with manslaughter and possibly additional counts for failing to assist the passenger.

Some of the media reports are questioning if Kargiotis had a ticket for the trip while others said he could have purchased the ticket onboard. Others are saying they believe he had already been aboard the vessel and for unknown reasons went back ashore and was rushing to get back aboard at sailing time.

Reports are that he was living with siblings on Crete and worked at various jobs. One newspaper is quoting his brother saying he frequently traveled to Athens to visit friends and always booked roundtrip passage from Crete. The reports are that he was known to the crew aboard the Blue Horizon.

Greece’s Prime Minister issued a statement calling the events “irresponsible,” and criticizing the “indifference,” saying that is not what he wants for the country. The Minister of the Merchant Marine also issued a statement but was later forced to go back on X (Twitter) to amend his statement after he used a word inferring Kargiotis was a “perpetrator.”

The Ministry has promised a full investigation not only of the shipping company and the crew but the Port Authority and port police. They also want to know what the police did when the man went into the water.

Attica Group, one of the largest Greek ferry companies and owners of Blue Star Ferries, issued a statement saying it was “devastated” by the incident. They promised full cooperation with the authorities as did the port authority. 

Departing the dock with the stern ramp down is a common, but illegal, action for the ferries. The Piraeus Port Authority immediately responded by issuing a summons to the vessel for departing the dock with its ramp down.

 

Top photo by C Messier - CC BY-SA 4.0 license