LOS ANGELES (AP/KION-TV) — Family members of the 34 people who died in the Conception dive boat fire off the coast of Santa Cruz Island have filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Coast Guard for not properly enforcing safety regulations.
The suit that was filed Wednesday says the Coast Guard repeatedly certified passenger boats that could be prone to a devastating fire like the Conception fire in September 2019.
It also alleges that less than a year before the fire, the Coast Guard certified the boat to carry 40 passengers overnight despite poor wiring and other issues board the Conception.
National Transportation Safety Board inspectors blamed the ship’s captain for not posting a night watchman when the fire broke out and called for changes in Coast Guard safety regulations.
The 34 victims ranged from a new deckhand to scientists and engineers to parents with their teenage and adult children. Two passengers were celebrating birthdays.
Some of the victims were Santa Cruz County residents, including:
- 60-year-old Carol Diana Adamic of Santa Cruz
- 41-year-old Vaidehi Campbell of Felton
- 16-year-old Berenice Felipe of Santa Cruz
- 41-year-old Kristina “Kristy” Finstad of Santa Cruz
- 55-year-old Steven Salika of Santa Cruz
- 17-year-old Tia Salika-Adamic of Santa Cruz, CA
A little over a year after the fire, 67-year-old Jerry Nehl Boylan pleaded not guilty to 34 counts of seaman’s manslaughter.