Water District Employee among California Boat Fire Victims
SANTA BARBARA, CA (September 2, 2019) – A water district employee was identified Thursday as one of the 34 victims of the Southern California boat fire.
Vaidehi Campbell, 41, of Felton, worked as a communications specialist for Soquel Creek Water District.
Campbell was a mother and graduate of Scripps College. She began working with the water district as a student intern in 1999 before she was later hired permanently in 2001.
During Campbell’s 18 years with the district, she launched its geographic information system platform and became an expert in many technology tools. In addition, she also attended events around the county dressed in a water droplet costume.
“Vaidehi’s passion for water was experienced by countless community members at local, county and even statewide educational and special events, working with teachers and presenting in local classrooms (from preschool to college), and wherever she had an opportunity to share her enthusiasm,” the district wrote.
“She was an exceptional educator on water conservation and recycling and most recently Vaidehi was out and about driving the district’s Pure Water Soquel Educational Trailer.”
Furthermore, Campbell was aboard the 75-foot-vessel along with 38 other people. The Conception was run by Santa Barbara-based Truth Aquatics. It was on a three-day diving trip to Channel Islands National Park at the time.
A fire broke out on the boat around 3:30 a.m., on Labor Day morning. However, the events leading up are currently unclear.
Moreover, five crew members awake upstairs managed to escape the vessel alive. However, all 33 passengers and one crew member in the sleeping quarters downstairs died as a result of the flames.
Meanwhile, divers have recovered all but one body at this time.
Among those killed were: 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, Neal Baltz, Patricia Beitzinger, Mike Kohls, Justin Dignam, Caroline McLaughlin, Alexandra Kurtz, Marybeth Guiney, Ted Strom, Wei Tan and Sunil Singh Sandhu.
On Friday, USA Today later reported that the victims likely died of smoke inhalation, not burns.
Authorities are still investigating potential ignition sources of the deadly fire, including electronics aboard the vessel.
Our heartfelt condolences go out to the loved ones and friends of Vaidehi Campbell during this difficult time.
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