Family of dead trucker suing Long Island Sound ferry firm

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by Daniel Tepfer
Connecticut Post

November 16, 2003

BRIDGEPORT — The family of a Stratford truck driver, killed when his rig rolled off a ferry into Long Island Sound last year, filed suit Tuesday against the ferry company.

In the lawsuit filed in Superior Court here, the family of Michael Zuber claim he would be alive today except for the carelessness of ferry employees.

Their lawyer, Vincent Musto, of the Bridgeport law firm Koskoff, Koskoff and Bieder, went further charging that Zuber's death was the result of the ferry employees disregarding federal regulations.

"Clearly if they had taken actions they were required to do, something as simple as putting chocks behind the wheels of his truck, Mr. Zuber would be preparing to enjoy a Thanksgiving dinner with his family," Musto said. "It's outrageous what they didn't do."

Officials at Cross-Sound Ferry Services, of New London, did not return telephone calls for comment on the lawsuit.

The 53-year-old Zuber, of Broadbridge Avenue, was killed when his tractor-trailer rolled off the New London-to-Orient Point ferry on Nov. 19, 2002.

Zuber, the father of three children and a decorated Vietnam combat veteran, had driven his rig, a mobile rock crusher, onto the 250-foot Susan Anne for the trip to Long Island.

The ferry employees failed to put chocks behind the rig's wheels and allowed Zuber to remain in the cab during the trip, a violation of federal regulations, the suit states.

As the ferry reached the area of Plum Gut, the rig rolled backwards off the stern of the boat and into 100 feet of water.

Passengers said they heard the loud clang of metal on metal and felt trundling vibrations as the truck snapped the thick chains and bowled down a steel post, safety features designed to stop vehicles from slipping off the boat, and scraped the boat's edge as it plunged into the water.

Zuber was later pulled dead from the Sound.

Married to his wife, Gail, for 20 years, relatives described Zuber as a quiet family man who took his children Amanda, 19; Matthew, 13; and Erik, 11 with him on cross-country drives during their school vacations.

"I am looking forward to hearing the litany of excuses the ferry company will make for not doing what they were required to do," Musto added.