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'Conception' Dive Boat Captain Faces Manslaughter Charges Over Fire That Left 34 Dead

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The 75-foot Conception, based in Santa Barbara Harbor, burns after catching fire early Sept. 2, 2019, anchored off Santa Cruz Island. (Santa Barbara County Fire Department via Getty Images)
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The captain of the Conception dive boat faces manslaughter charges for the deadly fire off the Santa Barbara coast that killed 34 people aboard last year.

The federal indictment charges Jerry Boylan, 67, with 34 counts of seaman's manslaughter. Boylan's "misconduct, negligence, and inattention to his duties" caused the deaths of 33 passengers and one crew member in September 2019, according to a release from the U.S. Department of Justice.

Five members of the crew, including Boylan, managed to escape the fire that broke out while everyone was sleeping below deck and the boat was anchored in Platt's Harbor near Santa Cruz Island.

The indictment cites three safety violations:

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  • failing to have a night watch or roving patrol
  • failing to conduct sufficient fire drills
  • failing to conduct sufficient crew training

If convicted, each charge carries up to 10 years in federal prison.
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