Singaporean Research Scientist among Dead in California Boat Blaze
SANTA BARBARA, CA (September 2, 2019) – A Singaporean research scientist was among the 34 people killed in a raging fire on a dive vessel off Santa Cruz Island.
Dr. Sunil Singh Sandhu, 46, had lived and worked in the United States for 24 years. He had gotten his Ph.D. in electrical engineering from Stanford University before joining Pointcloud in Palo Alto as a senior research scientist.
His family said he took up scuba diving just two months ago. He also called his parents every week and visited them at least once a year. His last visit was in March for two weeks, according to his father.
Sunil Singh was aboard the 23m-long Conception that had sailed for the Channel Islands in California for a three-day diving excursion.
Early Monday morning around 3:00 a.m., a fire suddenly broke out on the boat. Thirty-three passengers and one crew member below deck were all believed to have died.
Only the captain and four other crew members, who were topside and awake when the fire started, managed to escape and raised the alarm, investigators said.
A team from California’s Department of Justice began mapping DNA profiles of the victims and compared with samples from family members. Mr. Sunil Singh’s family said they have been asked to provide DNA samples.
A rapid DNA analysis tool was used to identify the victims. It was also used to identify at least 85 victims of a wildfire near San Francisco last year.
By Wednesday, the bodies of all but one of the 34 victims aboard the vessel had been recovered.
The names of of the victims released by the sheriff are: Kendra Chan, Scott Chan, Angela Quitasol, Evan Quitasol, Michael Quitasol, Nicole Quitasol, Diana Adamic, Steven Salika, Tia Salika, Andrew Fritz, Adrian Dahood-Fritz, Charles McIlvain, Vaidehi Campbell, Neal Baltz, Patricia Beitzinger, Mike Kohls, Justin Dignam, Caroline McLaughlin, Alexandra Kurtz, Marybeth Guiney, Daniel Garcia, Yulia Krashennaya, Ted Strom, and Wei Tan.
Authorities say medical examiners believe dozens of people who were trapped when the diving boat caught fire died of smoke inhalation, not burns.
The Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown told reporters the two exits, a stairway to the galley and an escape hatch may have both been blocked by fire.
The sheriff says there are multiple investigations into different aspects of the fire but that it hasn’t become a criminal probe.
We wish to offer our condolences to the bereaved loved ones and friends of Dr. Sunil Sandhu during this tragic time.
If you have lost a family member from this tragic boat fire accident, contact our law firm today at (800) 674 7852. We at the Sweet Lawyers are skilled in handling delicate cases and understand how challenging legal proceedings are for those involved. Our wrongful death lawyers will speak to you and they will bring all expertise to your case. Together with our team, we will get the justice you deserve.