Marine Biologist Behind Santa Barbara Diving Company Missing after Deadly Boat Fire
SANTA BARBARA, CA (September 2, 2019) – Family members identified a deceased victim in a boating accident early Monday as 41-year-old Kristy Finstad of Wisconsin. She was a marine biologist leading a scuba diving trip on a boat that caught fire and sank off the coast of Southern California, killing 34 people.
Finstad owned Worldwide Diving Adventures with her husband, Dan Chua, and had chartered the boat Conception for a three-day Labor day weekend diving expedition around Channel Islands National Park. Finstad was on board the dive boat when it went up in flames.
There were 39 people believed to be on board the boat, including six crew members. Dive teams pulled 20 bodies from the water but suspended the search on Tuesday for the remaining 14 victims. All are presumed dead. However, five crew members escaped the fire.
Those who died were trapped on the boat’s lower deck when flames quickly blocked both a narrow stairway and an escape hatch leading to the upper decks, Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said.
Authorities have identified the other victims 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 Mike Kohls.
Police have not released the identities of the remaining victims.
The cause of the fire is being investigated by the Santa Barbara County Fire Department.
We would like to send our sincere sympathies to the grieving families and friends of Kristy Finstad and of all other victims.
If you have lost a family member in this tragic accident, we urged you to reach out to our office at Sweet Lawyers today. We will help you file your claim and will litigate your case fervently until we arrive at a successful and favorable outcome. For 44 years, we have helped many families and individuals receive justice and needed compensation from those responsible. For more details, please schedule a free consultation at (800) 674 7852.