The Royal Winner Princess II–commonly known as the “party boat” out of Carolina Beach–was cruising in the Intracoastal Waterway toward Snow’s Cut at about 9:20 p.m., when “Uptown Funk” that was blaring from the boat abruptly cut off and the captain’s muffled announcement could be heard nearby.
The boat temporarily lost steering due to equipment failure and it struck a pier at the N.C. Wildlife boat ramp, according to what the captain reported to the U.S. Coast Guard. The Coast Guard is investigating the crash, the equipment and the captain, a spokesman confirmed Saturday morning.
The captain was able to pilot the boat back to its dock at the Carolina Beach Marina. Some of the 159 passengers who were on board suffered minor injuries, though the extent of the injuries and how many people were injured weren’t on the U.S Coast Guard investigative report.
Carolina Beach Town Manager Michael Cramer said five passengers were taken to the hospital to be treated for their injuries.
Aimee Bowen, of Wilmington, was a passenger on the boat on Friday night. Bowen said almost everyone on the boat fell over when the boat struck the pier, which passengers initially thought was a sand bar.
“Other people fell flat out all over the dance floor,” Bowen said. “People were sliding with tables falling.”
Bags of ice were made at the bar for passengers who were injured, she said.
The Royal Winner Princess III is a 120-foot boat with a 400-person capacity, according to the Carolina Beach-based company’s website.
Check back for more on this developing story.