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Conception boat fire victims, including 6 Santa Cruz residents, honored on anniversary

Memorial for Victims of Boat Fire
KEYT

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (KION) Sept. 2 marks the anniversary of the Conception boat fire that took the lives of 34 people, including six Santa Cruz residents.

Steve Salika and Diana Adamic were on the Labor Day Weekend trip celebrating their daughter Tia's birthday.

“Everyone in your life is precious and you need to cherish them and honor them. They could be gone in an instant. Three of them could be gone in an instant,” Erin Adamic said.

Erin attended a memorial and plaque unveiling in Santa Barbara Wednesday morning in honor of the 34 people who died, including her three family members.

“A big thank you even a year later to the first responders and rescue divers and everyone who came together to help," Erin Adamic said.

The Salika-Adamic family were joined by Tia's friend Berenice Felipe. Tia and Berenice attended Pacific Collegiate School in Santa Cruz.

Vaidehi Campbell, who worked at the Soquel Creek Water District, was also killed in the boat fire.

Kristy Finstad was a dive instructor on-board. She ran World Wide Diving Adventures which chartered the dive boat.

A year later, investigators are still figuring out if someone is to blame for the blaze. The National Transportation Safety Board says the fire broke out when everyone was sleeping below deck. All six crew members were asleep too, according to the NTSB. If that's determined to be true, it would break Coast Guard regulations.

The boat, named the Conception, had passed its most recent Coast Guard safety inspections without any violations.

The Santa Barbara Sheriff says the deadly disaster is leading to stricter regulations.

“The 34 did not die in vain. As a direct result of their loss, small vessel safety regulations and boating practices have already changed,” Sheriff Bill Brown said.

The NTSB is meeting in October, and is expected to release more information regarding its investigation.

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Drew Andre

Drew Andre is a multi-media journalist at KION News Channel 5/46.

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