Thursday, August 06, 2009

Dramatic Rescue on the Hudson

The director of the "Bourne Identity" helped in a Hollywood-style rescue on the Hudson, plucking three people from the river after a cargo ship slammed their speedboat.

Doug Liman and four movie-making pals were on his sailboat celebrating the wrap of a new film early Wednesday when they spotted the ship speeding toward a tiny vessel.

"We were like, 'That ship is heading right toward it,'" Liman, 43, told the Daily News. "It must see that boat."

On the 40-foot motorboat, Manhattan salon owner Daniel Rechelbacher was enjoying a serene meal with three pals just before 1 a.m.

The night descended into chaos when he spotted the black cargo ship - 250 feet long, 50 feet tall, with no lights - rushing toward them.

"It was pretty ... scary," Rechelbacher said. "It was coming up on us so fast."

Rechelbacher and two of his friends jumped into the Hudson and narrowly avoided getting run over by the ship.

It smashed into and crushed the side of the motorboat - and kept going.

One of Rechelbacher's pals, a woman, remained aboard and was tossed off the boat during the collision, but miraculously sustained only a deep cut on her foot.

From the vantage point of his sailboat, Liman saw the motorboat's light go out as the cargo ship closed in.

He was about to dock at Pier 40 near Houston St. but instead gunned the engine and headed back out into the water.

The sailboat's owner, producer Avram Ludwig, went out on the bow and scoured the dark, choppy waters.

"I didn't think we'd find anyone," Liman said.

As Liman started stripping off his clothes, he and his fellow boaters heard the cries of four people flailing in the water, clinging to the capsized speedboat.

They radioed for help and Ludwig leaped to action, grabbing a life ring and helping Rechelbacher and two women into the sailboat.

Rechelbacher's other pal, the speedboat's captain, refused to swim away from his crushed vessel and remained there until Fire Department boats arrived.

Liman and Ludwig took the shaken boaters to the shore. They spent five hours at St. Vincent's Hospital Manhattan, but were released in good condition.

As he left the emergency room, shirtless and disheveled, Rechelbacher thanked his saviors.

"They're guardian angels," he said.

Liman called the experience surreal.

"I make action movies for a living," said the director, who also helmed "Swingers" and "Mr. & Mrs. Smith."

"If I had Jason Bourne survive that, people would start throwing popcorn at the screen .... These people were extremely lucky."

Cops said the cargo ship's operator likely never saw the speedboat. No criminality was suspected, a spokesman said.

Officials said cargo ships have the right of way.

1 comment:

Pat said...

It's hard to tell from the story whether the ship really had right of way and whether the motorboat operator was solely to blame.

Was the motorboat in a designated channel where the ship had right of way? Was the motorboat under way?

Did the motorboat crew fail to keep adequate lookout while having dinner?

Were the ship's navigation lights off or was it just hard to see them from the motorboat?

It also seems that the operators of the ship , which was a relatively small ship operating in what is presumably a congested area, failed to keep a proper lookout as evidenced by it not stopping or noticing the motorboat in time to try to avoid collision. The size discrepancy was not so large that the ship operators shouldn't have seem a legally lit motorboat. Unfortunately, ship operators very frequently fail to keep an adequate lookout.

I'm guessing, based on the story, that blame would be about 40% the ship's and 60% the boat's and that the operators of the ship would likely face sanctions for negligent operation and failure to keep lookout or render aid.

Desert Sea