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Families Of Conception Dive Boat Fire Victims File Federal Suit Against The Coast Guard

A boat on the water on fire at night time.
The fire on the Conception dive boat claimed the lives of 34 people -- now the victim's families are filing a suit against the Coast Guard.
(Courtesy Santa Barbara County Fire Department)
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Two years ago today, Sept. 2, the Conception dive boat caught fire and sank off the Channel Islands, killing 34 people. Now, the families of those victims have filed a new lawsuit.

The suit, filed late Wednesday in federal court, claims the Coast Guard set the stage for the tragedy to happen well before the Conception’s final voyage.

The boat had passed the agency’s safety inspections less than a year before the fire. After the disaster, however, investigators found dangerous flaws in the electrical and fire suppression systems on one of its sister vessels.

The exact cause of the deadly fire was never determined. That said, the final report from federal safety investigators blamed the boat's operator, Truth Aquatics, for numerous safety lapses.

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That report also faulted the Coast Guard for not properly enforcing its own rules.

A Coast Guard spokesperson contacted about the lawsuit replied that the agency will not comment on pending litigation.

Families of the victims filed a separate wrongful death lawsuit against Truth Aquatics last year.

The boat’s captain, Jerry Boylan, pled not guilty to 34 counts of seaman’s manslaughter earlier this year. He is currently awaiting trial.

The Conception was a few days into a diving excursion when it caught fire and sank overnight near Santa Cruz Island. Of those killed, 33 were passengers and one was a crew member. Five crew members survived by jumping off the boat. All who were killed were below deck.

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