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Bremerton-Seattle ferry runs aground on Bainbridge Island

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

A Washington state ferry ran aground at the south end of Bainbridge Island around 4:30 p.m. Saturday.

The M/V Walla Walla was en route to Seattle when it ran aground in Rich Passage. No injuries have been reported. Washington State Ferries reports that the vessel "suffered a generator failure," but also says that an investigation into the incident will be conducted.

Haley Socha was on the Walla Walla when it happened, about 10 minutes after it left the Bremerton dock. Socha says the ferry lost power as it was making a turn through Rich Passage. Passengers then heard a loud whistle. An order for passengers to put on life jackets was issued.

"Then the engines came back on, then they quickly went off again," Socha said. "Then they made an announcement that we had lost steering and propulsion and we were going to run aground. They announced we should brace for impact. Gradually, we scraped the bottom and then ran aground on Bainbridge Island."

"It was fairly slow ... everyone could feel it. A couple people were jarred, a little bit, but everyone seems to be OK."

On the shore, Bainbridge Island residents John Ellis and Ann Wilkinson Ellis could tell something was wrong with the Walla Walla before it ran aground.

"We heard five blasts from the ferry, usually five blasts is a signal of danger or something," John Ellis told KUOW. "The next thing we heard was a 'boom,' so we ran out and we watched as the ferryboat Walla Walla went in front of our house, kept going, and went straight up onto Pleasant Beach."

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29 secs A ferry on the Bremerton-Seattle route ran aground at the south end of Bainbridge Island Saturday, April 15, 2023.
Courtesy of John Ellis

"We heard this explosion ... we have never heard that sound before," Wilkinson Ellis said. "We ran out on our deck. There was no collision, but the Walla Walla, sadly, one of my favorite ferry boats, was drifting into Pleasant Beach and grounded there, north of Lytle Beach and south of Lynwood Center, right in front of people's homes."

Ellis observed that the ferry was going slowly as it ran onto the beach, and didn't make it far enough to reach nearby houses along the shoreline. He said he then saw people from the shore lingering on the beach, "looking at their new, hopefully temporary, neighbor."

At 5:05 p.m., Washington State Ferries tweeted that a boat on the Bremerton-Seattle route was, "Out of Service Due to a Vessel Issue."

Jason Pagano contributed to this report.

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