34 Deaths Expected after California Dive Boat Fire

Santa Barbara, California: Protection and safety measures on any vessels are of paramount importance; however, even when a vessel has been confirmed to have passed prior inspections how safe are you?

Case in point is the Conception, a 75-foot commercial diving vessel, which caught fire over the Labor Day Weekend in California.  The Conception, which carried a reported 39 souls on board left on August 31st for a 3 day cruise off the coast of California’s Channel Islands, but things did not go as expected.

While the Coast Guard confirmed prior inspections demonstrate the Conception was in full compliance with safety regulations something went terribly wrong when the boat quickly caught fire, spreading the blaze throughout the vessel seemingly very rapidly.  The intensity of the fire was so powerful that rescuers were unfortunately unable to breach the hull of the vessel in order to search for survivors, said Coast Guard Senior Chief Aaron Bemis.

Truth Aquatics, which is a Santa Barbara Harbor-based operation founded in 1974, owns the Conception.  The vessel reportedly carried 33 passengers and 6 crew members.  Thirty-four aboard the vessel were sleeping below deck when the fire broke out.  Five crew members, including the captain, were rescued by a neighboring ship; however, multiple passengers are still missing.

Bob Hansen was sleeping on his boat, The Grape Escape, some 400 yards from the Conception, when he heard pounding on his ship.  It was the cries for help from the captain and 4 crew members of the Conception, seeking refuge and assistance.  At 3:30 a.m. rescuers were alerted to a vessel in distress.

It was confirmed by a US Coast Guard source that there were more than 30 passengers trapped below deck when the fire befell Conception.    Captain Monica Rochester spoke at a press conference, saying, “Fire department crews were fighting the fire when the vessel sank twenty yards offshore in sixty-four feet of water,” sinking some four hours after the blaze began.

The remains of 25 people were recovered said Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Kroll in a text message conversation with NBC  News; however, that figure is awaiting confirmation by the coroner.

At the time of this writing nine people remain missing, with the search for survivors ongoing. At this time there is no immediate evidence of foul play.

But did the captain and crew do all they can?  How can you be sure if you or your family were properly taken care of when traveling the seas?

Listen to our very own lawyer Dennis M. O’Bryan​ commenting on the maritime incident. https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/paul-w-smith-talks-to-maritime-legal-expert-about-tragic/id707508884?i=1000448444623

If you or your loved one has been injured while on a diving boat, contact the maritime lawyers of O’Bryan Law immediately for a case consultation. You may be able to seek compensation for your hardships under the maritime law. 

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