Conception Boat Fire: Here's What We Know About The 34 Victims
Before dawn on Labor Day, a fire broke out on the Conception — a boat carrying 39 people for a scuba diving excursion over the holiday weekend. Five crewmembers jumped overboard as flames engulfed the ship, but another crewmember and 33 passengers were trapped in the lower sleeping quarters as the fire raged.
A few hours later, as firefighting boats worked to douse the flames, the Conception sank about 20 yards off Santa Cruz Island. Over the next few days, 33 bodies have been recovered and responders continue to search for the last victim. Authorities have a list of the passengers, but have not released the names as they work to identify the remains through DNA testing and notify family members.
As investigators work to understand what happened, family and friends of the passengers are coming forward to talk about their lost loved ones.
Here's what we know so far about who they were. This story will be updated as LAist confirms more information with family members and employers.
Raymond (Scott) Chan, 59, Los Altos
Scott Chan, a high school teacher in Fremont, was on the Conception with his 26-year-old daughter, Kendra Chan. Kendra was a wildlife biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and was stationed in Ventura.
In an interview with KTVU-TV in Oakland, Vicki Moore, Scott Chan's partner and Kendra Chan's mother, said the father and daughter had been scuba diving together for years and frequently took trips out to the Channel Islands.
"You don't expect to have a child that dies before you," Moore said in the interview. "I can barely talk about my husband, but frankly, it's even harder when it's your own child."
Adrian Dahood-Fritz, 40
Andrew Fritz, 40
Adrian Dahood-Fritz was a senior environmental scientist with the state's Ocean Protection Council. Her husband, Andrew Fritz, was a professional photographer. The couple moved to California earlier this year from Taylor, TX.
Dahood-Fritz led efforts to manage California's network of marine protected areas, Governor Gavin Newsom said in a statement Thursday. "She embodied marine conservation and was a highly accomplished and respected scientific researcher. Adrian's passion and energy will be greatly missed," Newsom wrote.
Fritz taught photography and shared tips in an online blog. He was scheduled to teach a class in Austin on photo printing later in September.
Alexandra (Allie) Kurtz, 25, Santa Barbara
Alexandra Kurtz loved the ocean, her mother told NPR.
"She just wanted to follow her dream of the ocean and the sea and diving. And that's what she wanted to do. That's where she was happy at," Sherry McDonough said in the interview. She said her daughter had worked for a time at Paramount Pictures.
She recently joined the crew of the Conception as a deckhand, her family told the Associated Press.
"She wanted to go on the Conception so bad. She wanted to work that boat, and she was finally able to work that boat," her 20-year-old sister Olivia Kurtz said in an interview with AP. "She left this world doing something she absolutely loved. This was her dream, and she was finally able to fulfill this dream."
A GoFundMe page set up by a family friend on behalf of the Kurtz family includes a message shared by Kurtz's father. In the message, Robert Kurtz says: "As the news has said there was one missing crew member. That crew member was my beautiful daughter Allie. She did not survive the explosion and I am now in Santa Barbara, CA having to provide DNA so we can identify her, and lay her to rest."
Kurtz had also recently started volunteering at the Channel Islands Marine & Wildlife Institute, which helps rescue and rehabilitate marine mammals.
"You are in our hearts, thoughts and prayers," the institute wrote in a Facebook post. "We feel blessed that your shining passionate light briefly touched our organization."
Marybeth Guiney, 51, Santa Monica
Marybeth Guiney and Charles McIlvain of Santa Monica were well-known in the diving community. Guiney was a donor and cleanup volunteer with Heal the Bay, according to the organization.
Cindi Peltier, a friend of Guiney, choked up as she remembered texting with Guiney on Friday evening while she was on the deck of the Conception. "She was supposed to come to my husband's birthday party and she was so sad to miss it because she was going diving. She sent me a text to me and my husband just saying, "Happy Labor Day."
Peltier said Guiney was full of life and adventure. "[She] had a huge community of girls who she would go biking with hiking with," Peltier said.
She said she thought Guiney wouldn't want her death to discourage anyone from diving.
"She would never want anyone not to feel the love of the ocean," Peltier said.
Guiney was good friends with McIlvain and his wife, Jasmine Lord, and lived in the same building as the couple, Peltier said.
Carter Crary, owner of Malibu Divers, said McIlvain was "one of the nicest people I have ever met."
Steve Salika, an engineer for Apple, was taking the trip on the Conception with his wife, Diana Adamic, their daughter, Tia Salika, and another Apple employee, Dan Garcia, according to a statement provided by Dierdre O'Brien, a senior vice president at Apple.
O'Brien said Steve Salika was a 30-year veteran of Apple "whose energy and enthusiasm touched so many people across our company throughout his career."
She said Salika met his wife, Adamic, at the office.
O'Brien wrote that Dan Garcia "was as passionate about his job at Apple as he was about his love of diving. Both leave many friends behind and will be deeply missed."
The group booked the excursion to celebrate Tia's 17th birthday, according to the San Jose Mercury News.
Carrie McLaughlin, 35, Oakland
Kristian Takvam was a passenger on the Conception, according to his father.
He worked for Brilliant, a web company that offers courses in math, physics and computer sciences. He was on the trip with a work colleague, Carrie McLaughlin, the company confirmed Wednesday.
"The loss of Carrie and Kristian is deeply heartbreaking for all of us at Brilliant," CEO Sue Khim said in a statement. "Carrie and Kristian were incredible friends and colleagues who brought immense passion, talent, leadership, and warmth, and they will be missed dearly. Our hearts are with their families and friends."
The California Teachers Association confirmed that Angela Quitasol, a teacher in the Lincoln Unified School District was on the boat with her sisters Nicole and Evanmichael Quitasol, her father Michael Quitasol and her stepmother Fernisa Sison.
"They were outstanding citizens, they're just beautiful, special. they did everything right. I don't understand," said Julissa Garcia, a cousin of the family, told NBC4.
The couple lived in Phoenix, AZ and travelled the world, including Micronesia and the Caribbean for diving trips.
Finstad is co-owner of Worldwide Diving Adventures, the company that chartered the Conception for the trip. A marine biologist, Finstad had done hundreds of dives in the Channel Islands and across the globe.
She put on her first diving tank in Cozumel when she was 9-years-old, according to the company website.
A statement on the site says the company is grieving the loss of Finstad and other divers and asks for privacy.
"We anxiously await the results of the investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board, Federal Bureau of Investigation, United States Coast Guard, Santa Barbara Sheriff and other investigative agencies and have requested our attorney to cooperate fully," according to the statement.
Wei Tan, 26, Goleta
The Singaporean consulate in San Francisco said two of its citizens were on the manifest list of the Conception, according to information reported to them by U.S. authorities. The consulate declined to confirm names, but a family member of one of the victims, Wei Tan, posted about her younger sister's death on Facebook.
"We sincerely thank all relatives and friends for your love and concern as we get through this difficult phase," Cheerin Tan wrote. "It hurts, it will always hurt, but we will move on."
Wei Tan recently finished graduate studies in industrial engineering at UC Berkeley and lived in Santa Barbara, according to her Facebook page.
Vaidehi Campbell (also known as Vaidehi Williams)
Vaidehi Campbell's job as a district communications specialist at the Soquel Creek Water District was one of many roles she held "during her 18 years with us," the company wrote in a press release about her death. "Vai's entire career was spent sharing with the community her sparkling energy and exuberance about our District's mission of preserving and protecting our precious water resources."
Her death was also announced by the Scripps College Alumnae Association on Facebook.
Other known victims who have been identified:
Justin Carroll Dignam, 58, Anaheim
Daniel Garcia, 46, Berkeley
Yulia Krashennaya, 40, of Berkeley
Ted Strom, 62, Germantown, Tennessee
Alyssa Jeong Perry, Brianna Flores, Melissa Leu, Jill Replogle, Emily Dugdale and Ryan Fonseca contributed to this report. With information from AP.
Sept. 6 12:41 p.m.: This article was updated with additional information about the victims.
Sept. 6, 12:10 p.m.: This article was updated with additional information about the victims released by the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department during a press briefing Friday morning.
Sept. 5, 1:15 p.m.: This article was updated with additional information about the victims.
Sept. 5, 4:00 p.m.: This article was updated with additional information about the victims.
Sept. 5, 6:10 p.m.: This article was updated with additional information about the victims.
This article was originally published on Sept. 4 at 4:40 p.m.