Understanding The Tragic Dive Boat Accident

Conception, a 75-foot dive boat, left for a recreational scuba diving trip on Saturday, August 31 left from Santa Barbara. The boat traveled to the south side of Santa Cruz Island, up to Cavern Point, and over to the north side of the island. The trip ended abruptly in disaster when the vessel caught fire, fatally trapping 34 passengers onboard. Only crew members, who were sleeping on the top deck, survived.

The passengers, along with one crew member, sleeping on the bottom deck, became trapped when the fire broke out.

The Facts

The dive boat that caught fire was built in Long Beach, California and launched in 1981. It was rated to carry up to 46 people safely and provided 13 double bunks and 20 single bunks for sleeping space. The 75-foot vessel was operated by Truth Aquatics, Inc. which runs out of Santa Barbara Harbor.

Although authorities have been unable to identify how the fire broke out, they speculate that the passengers below deck were unable to get out because the flames blocked the only two exits, the main stairwell and an escape hatch. As the Coast Guard points out in the distress call, the passengers were unable to utilize the escape hatch, effectively trapping them inside while the boat burned.

The victims, who ranged between ages 17 to 60, were mostly from the San Francisco Bay Area. As of Wednesday, September 4, 2019, 33 of the 34 bodies had been recovered. The final victim’s body remains unrecovered.

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We at Rouda Feder Tietjen & McGuinn would like to extend our deepest sympathies to the victims and families of those affected by this tragic fire. Losing a loved one is never easy, but under such horrific circumstances, the loss can be especially difficult to cope with. We offer our sincere condolences to all those affected.

Contact Rouda Feder Tietjen & McGuinn to schedule a free consultation with our San Francisco-based firm.