Coast Guard investigation into party boat crash continues

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Days after crashing into a pier near Snow's Cut, the Royal Winner Princess II, known as Carolina Beach's party boat, cruises past Snow's Cut. Photo by Caroline Curran.
Days after crashing into a pier near Snow’s Cut, the Royal Winner Princess II, known as Carolina Beach’s party boat, cruises past Snow’s Cut on Tuesday evening. Photo by Caroline Curran.

The U.S. Coast Guard investigation into what caused a 120-foot party boat to crash into a pier last Friday night near Snow’s Cut is underway, as is the boat.

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 it crashed into a pier at the North Carolina Wildlife boat ramp near the Snow’s Cut Bridge.

Related story: Coast Guard investigates party boat crash at Carolina Beach

According to the U.S. Coast Guard Investigation, the captain reported that he temporarily lost steering due to an equipment failure. The Coast Guard is investigating the equipment, the captain and the incident.

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. But eyewitness accounts reported to Port City Daily indicate more than five passengers were taken to the hospital for their injuries. The Coast Guard report did not list injuries, a spokesman said.

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.

U.S. Coast Guard officials on Wednesday said there weren’t any updates into the investigation other than that it was ongoing. It did not appear that the boat or the captain were under any restrictions, according to a Coast Guard spokesman.

Representatives from Winner Cruises, which operates the party boat, declined to comment on the investigation, but cruises are continuing as normal, according to a voicemail on the boat company’s reservation line.

The Royal Winner Princess II was damaged when it struck a N.C. Wildlife pier on Friday night. Photos courtesy Aimee Bowen.
The Royal Winner Princess II was damaged when it struck a N.C. Wildlife pier on Friday night. Photo courtesy Aimee Bowen.