Point Defiance ferry shut down until Friday

Captain’s medical problem on Christmas Eve caused ferry to damage dock

The Washington State ferry route between Point Defiance and Tahlequah on the south end of Vashon Island will remain out of service until Friday, Dec. 30 after the Point Defiance dock was damaged on Christmas Eve.

The captain of the ferry Chetzemoka suffered suffered an apparent heart attack as the ferry was docked at Point Defiance. According to the Washington State Department of Transportation, as the ferry was preparing to depart, the captain collapsed and hit the boat’s control panel, causing the ferry to prematurely break away from the dock. The unexpected movement caused damage to the ramp used to load vehicles onto the ferry.

Other crew members on the bridge quickly gained control of the ferry and assisted the captain by using an automated external defibrillator to revive him until medics were able to transport the captain to a hospital. Ferries spokesman Ian Sterling said that the captain had a “major medical emergency,” but was expected to recover. No passengers or crew were injured in the incident.

Until repairs are completed, service to Vashon Island will only be available from the island’s north end, with ferries to Southworth and Seattle (Fauntleroy).