Monday, March 17, 2014

Turkey: Young Girl, 5, Dies, Family Injured When Auto-Ferry Pulls Away from Dock in Istanbul

According to, a five year-old Turkish girl was killed and three women in her family were injured when their vehicle fell into sea and sunk while boarding an auto-ferry in Istanbul on March 15.

The negligent ferry captain began pulling away from the dock before the last vehicle was loaded. The incident occurred at 1520 hours on Saturday (March 15) and took place at Istanbul’s Sirkeci Port, as the last vehicle--carrying four people--sunk in the deep water.

According to eyewitnesses, the last car aboard the Sirkeci-Harem Ferry was on the hatchway when the ship started to move away from the dock. Yet, the hatchway was not closed properly and the car slid back, hanging from the lid for some time before falling into the sea and sinking.

Two members of the family, Ebru Güleren Yılmaz, the mother of the five-year-old child, and Mine Dalkılıç, managed to escape from the car before it sank. The grandmother, Şaziye Güleren, and the child, Ece Su Yılmaz, were recovered by divers once they arrived on scene.

COMMENT: Although the child was alive when divers rescued her from the water, she was pronounced dead upon arrival at the hospital. Her body has now been sent to the forensic medicine department where an autopsy will be performed.

Yılmaz and Dalkılıç have been released from hospital after initial treatment, while the grandmother is being kept in intensive care.

The family's vehicle has been recovered from the water by a fire department crane.

Prosecutors demanded the captain of the ferry and two subordinates be arrested for reckless homicide; however, the court released all three. 

The captain was banned from traveling abroad by the court, although his passport was not seized.

The Istanbul Fast Ferries Co. Inc. (İDO) has released a statement extending its condolences to the family. 

Many ferry users have criticized operators in the past for misconduct.

All travelers and residents are reminded that safety protocols they be comfortable with at home may be very different and much more risk-prone when traveling abroad.

When traveling by auto-ferry, it is always suggested that travelers arrive early so that they are not among the last to be loaded.