Ferry grounding unacceptable

Letter to the editor

Posted: Sunday, June 06, 2004

I read Eric Gucker's letter to you regarding the M/V LeConte and would like to respond.

While recognition of safety on the job would occasionally be nice, it simply doesn't happen very often and that is just the way things are. Nationwide, hundreds of thousands of people go to work each and every day entrusted with the safety of the public and perform their jobs accident-free but never receive public kudos for a job well done. The bottom line here, however, is that they are trained and paid to perform their jobs accident-free. The truth of this particular incident is that two well-trained, well-paid individuals, Mr. Williamson and Mr. Petrich, were in control of the state ferry LeConte, were negligent in their duties and in ideal weather and sea conditions piloted the ship into and upon a reef.

Mr. Gucker states that he is saddened by the Alaska Marine Highway System spokesperson Nona Wilson's statements to the Juneau Empire condemning the "100 percent unacceptable behavior" of Mr. Williamson and Mr. Petrich, the captain and chief mate on the bridge at the time of grounding. Yes, this was an unfortunate incident and the crew did respond admirably, but what you try to hide in your letter, Mr. Gucker, is that the captain and the chief mate ran a $35 million dollar ship into a reef in perfect weather conditions. The only thing that kept the LeConte from sinking and the 109 people on board from ending up in the water was the fact that it was stuck on the rocks.

How saddened would you have been, Mr. Gucker, if the ship had sunk and someone had been seriously injured, even drowned?

A woman spills hot coffee in her lap in a fast food drive-thru and a man becomes obese by eating that fast food. Both of them then turn around and sue McDonald's for millions because of what McDonald's did to them. What's wrong with this picture? Where has personal responsibility gone in this country?

Ms. Wilson had it right on ... the behavior on the LeConte bridge that fateful day was "100 percent unacceptable." Mr. Williamson and Mr. Petrich need to step up to the plate and accept responsibility and the consequences for the grounding of the M/V LeConte.

Charley Larson


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