VDOT: Ferry Captain misunderstood mate’s signal, drove off early

James City County, Va. – A misunderstanding caused a driver to plummet into the James River, according to documents just released by VDOT.

They say the ferry’s captain, who is no longer employed by them, took off without being given the all clear earlier this month.

The new documents say Captain Jack Goolsby admits he misunderstood a wave by the mate as an all clear to go. When Goolsby drove off, Emma Fretts and her car were left on the edge.

19-year-old Fretts describes being panicked and stuck inside her car as it plunged head first into the James River. The frightening details are laid out in her statement to authorities from the August 7 incident.

Trying to board the Jamestown-Scotland Ferry, Fretts was in her Toyota Scion as it pulled away.

Not knowing what was happening, Fretts recalls ferry employees running towards her car, waving. It was too late. Her car was going down and Fretts was inside.

“I was panicking and tried to put my window down, but was hitting the wrong button.” she writes.

As her car submerged, Fretts writes that she tried to calm down and think about what to do. As her car floated back to the surface, she managed to roll down the window and escape. Fretts watched as her car sank and she climbed the ramp to safety.

Related: 

Ferry captain no longer with VDOT after woman’s car falls into water

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