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Gateway Clipper boat strikes Veterans Bridge



PITTSBURGH - Emergency dispatchers have confirmed to Channel 11 News that one of the Gateway Clipper boats struck the Veterans Bridge Friday night.

Pittsburgh police spokeswoman Sonya Toler said the Gateway Princess boat hit the bridge near the North Shore pier.

Toler said the Fish and Boat Commission were on the scene and assessed the bridge, which appeared to be fine.

Terry Wirginis, owner of the Gateway Clipper Fleet, told Channel 11 News there was a hydraulic failure. The captain then dropped anchor and a few minutes later, the boat made a glancing blow off the bridge.

He said the crew followed all proper procedure.

“We train for these things,” Wirginis said. “We do deck drills every week on all of our vessels and we take it very seriously. Safety is our most important thing.”

Wirginis said there were about 180 people on the boat at the time. One girl who told Channel 11 News she was onboard celebrating her 16th birthday reported minor injuries.

“I was walking and it made a big bump. I fell into the pole and fell into the wall,” she said.

The Gateway Princess, formerly known as the Keystone Belle, is 120 feet long and 35 feet wide, according to Gateway Clipper's website. It has a capacity of 400 passengers and hosts more weddings than any other boat in the fleet, the website says.

The Coast Guard will investigate what caused the problem with the air pressure.