Tragic Diving Boat Fire Kills 33 People off Santa Cruz Island
SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, CA (September 4, 2019) – Authorities announced that the fire on the diving boat off the coast of Santa Cruz Island killed 33 people.
The victims include several families celebrating birthdays and other special occasions. Coast Guard Lt. Zach Farrell said all but one of the deceased have been recovered, as of Wednesday afternoon.
Five crew members jumped overboard and paddled to the nearby vessel. However, the other passengers and a sixth crew member were asleep below deck when flames engulfed the 75-foot dive boat Conception.
Conception caught fire about 20 yards off of Santa Cruz Island while moored in Platt’s Harbor early Monday morning. 39 people were on the boat’s manifest for a three-day scuba diving trip.
Of the 39 aboard, 33 passengers and one crew member died. Only five people – all crew members – were found alive and rescued by a good samaritan vessel.
Moreover, a family of five along with high school students, an adventurous marine biologist and a science teacher are among those lost in the accident. An engineer, his wife, daughter and another Apple employee were also on board.
The victims were later identified as: Neal Baltz, Patricia Beitzinger, Allie Kurtz, Scott Chan, Kendra Chan, Berenice Felipe, Tia Salika, Steve Salika, Diana Adamic, Evan Quitasol, Nicole Quitasol, Angela Quitasol, Fernisa Sison, Michael Quitasol, Charles McIlvain, Marybeth Guiney, Lisa Fiedler, and Kristy Finstad. However, police have not released the identities of the remaining victims.
The deceased victims were removed from the wreckage and transferred to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Coroner’s Office. The majority were recovered with the help of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office dive team.
Divers are currently mapping the search area for the last victim based on water current and the debris field, which is about a half-mile in size. However, divers will have to work in dangerous conditions as they navigate the wreckage about 65 feet below water.
The search for the final remaining victim is still ongoing.
The cause of the fire is being investigated by the Santa Barbara County Fire Department. As of now, investigators have not yet determined a cause of the fire.
The National Transportation Safety Board could release a report within 10 days of the incident, but a final report could take two years. However, the agency plans to update the public Wednesday.
During the investigation, NTSB will interview the five crew members who survived, first responders, and the other companies involved. Investigators will also examine crew training, safety records, survival factors and whether the boat had life jackets and other safety gear.
Our law firm would like to express our deepest condolences to the family, friends, and loved ones of all the victims during this difficult time.
The Santa Barbara boat fire is devastating and at this time there is no cause of the fire. If you had a family member involved in the accident, reach out to Sweet Lawyers today. Our team of legal representatives and attorneys will help guide you through this process while the authorities investigation the boat fire. With over 44 years of experience in the legal field, we know how to handle your wrongful death lawsuit. We promise to fight, day and night, to achieve the justice and compensation that you and your family deserve. Call our offices at (800) 674 7852 for a free consultation with a professional in your area. We can also be contacted by email, online chat, and text message 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.