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DOT: Seattle ferry not overloaded

Associated Press

SEATTLE – A state investigation has found that a Seattle ferry that was forced to turn around before a preseason Seahawks football game last month wasn’t overloaded.

The ferry Cathlamet was en route from Bremerton to Seattle on Aug. 15 when the captain returned to dock over fears that it was overloaded by nearly 500 passengers. Some 484 passengers left the vessel before it disembarked again for Seattle.

But a report from the Washington Department of Transportation, released Monday under a public records request, said video surveillance showed about 1,073 passengers boarding before the ferry left Bremerton – below the boat’s capacity of 1,200, and well below the 1,684 passengers officials believed were on board.

The investigation, completed Sept. 11, suggested that a malfunctioning hand-clicker used to count the passengers was to blame for the erroneous count.

Leslie Tweit, the ferries employee who counted the walk-on passengers, gave a written statement initially saying she did not believe her clicker was broken. But she later told investigators that her clickers had malfunctioned before, and that she was so focused on watching the passengers board that she didn’t look at her device to see if it was miscounting.

Her device registered 1,461 walk-on passengers, instead of the actual number of approximately 850, the report said. More than 200 passengers boarded by vehicle.

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