Tourists cheat death as whale-watching ship crashes into California pier (VIDEO)

© Steve Holden
It was a Hollywood movie moment caught on video. A whale-watching ship crashed into a pier in the California city of San Diego this weekend, as dozens of tourists scrambled to safety.

It all started in slow motion with onlookers taking a few moments to realize “that ship ain’t stopping”.

And so much for women and children first.

The spry tourists also revealed their selfish side, leaving behind a female elder struggling to get out of the way, just before the 150ft ship with 144 people on board hit the dock.

Fair play to the two lads who tried to help her at the very end.

While damage to the pier was minimal, the collision knocked down passengers, tables, and chairs.

At least seven people were injured on board the ship, although none were in a life threatening condition, according to the San Diego Union Tribune.

Passenger Deb Ellis, who was celebrating her 60th birthday - one she is unlikely to forget, told the paper it was a “hard hit”.

“It felt like we were coming in a little hot,” she said. “Then the boat hit the dock. The next thing I heard was for blasts of the horn. ... We hit pretty hard.”

The crew of the ship said a mechanical malfunction caused the throttle to be stuck in the forward position, leaving staff unable to prevent the crash.

The ship, named Hornblower, really lived up to its name, as the crew 'sounded the alarm'.