LOS ANGELES (AP) – The six crew members were asleep aboard a scuba diving boat off the south coast of California when a fire broke out. declared in the middle of the night, making 34 dead, who were imprisoned in the dormitory under the main deck, announced federal investigators Thursday.
The preliminary report of the National Transportation Safety Board indicated that five crew members slept in their quarters behind the wheelhouse on the second deck and another under the bridge when the fire broke out. All but one survived hell.
The cause of the fire has not yet been determined.
A San Diego woman killed in the deadly fire of a design boat off Santa Barbara
Boats like the Conception, which caught fire around 3am on September 2nd and sank, must be watched at night by a member of the crew. Federal authorities are conducting a criminal investigation into the deadly fire off the coast of Santa Barbara and could lay charges under a law known as manslaughter by a seafarer.
The law predates civil war and was adopted to punish captains, engineers and negligent pilots for fatal accidents caused by steamboats that killed thousands of people.
Douglas Schwartz, who represents Truth Aquatics, disputed the claims of federal investigators, claiming that one crew member "checked in and around the kitchen" around 2:30 am on September 2nd.
Design owners seek to avoid lawsuits after the death of 34 people in the fire of a boat
Conception's victims ranged from a 17-year-old daughter with her parents and a friend to a 26-year-old crew member who was thrilled with her recent promotion to deckhand. Among the others, there was the marine biologist who led the three-day visit and couples who shared a love for the water.
Coast Guard records show that the design has passed its two most recent inspections without a security breach. Previous customers have stated that the company owning the vessel, Truth Aquatics, and the captains of its three boats, were very safety conscious. A Truth Aquatics lawyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment via email on the NTSB's preliminary report.
Truth Aquatics Inc. filed a complaint last week with the US District Court under a pre-Civil War maritime law provision that allowed it to limit its liability.
Captain Conception's sister ship stands up for colleagues
As crews were striving to recover debris from the Calcined Seabed Design, the Coast Guard issued additional safety recommendations following the tragedy, such as limiting the unattended battery charge to lithium-ion and the use of power strips and extension cords.
The NTSB report released on Thursday provided little additional detail and indicated that investigators had only interviewed three of the five surviving crew members, who had stated that no mechanical or electrical problems existed. had been reported before the fire.
The NTSB has not mentioned any potential charges, which would be part of the criminal investigation.
Investigators Examine Possible Causes of Conception Boat Fire Off Santa Barbara
A lawyer representing the captain of a Maine lobsterman charged with the murder of two crew members who fell overboard when his boat sailed on the high seas, said that he suspected that prosecutors reviewing the information would ask him if there was a guard and, if so, what the captain had said or done.
"No watch? A boat as far off?" Michael Turndorf asked. "I think it fits the law, I would be surprised if these are the real circumstances in which nobody is being prosecuted."
According to the NTSB, one of the crew on the upper deck woke up with a sound and saw flames rising from the middle deck. He alerted the rest of the crew when the captain made a panic call to the Coast Guard.
The crew, finding the ladder leading to the main deck on fire, jumped to the ground, one of them breaking a leg. They tried to reach others through a window but could not open it. They were forced to jump overboard when they were submerged by the smoke.
The captain and two crew members swam up to the stern of the ship and took over the boat, according to the report. They opened the hatch of the engine room but found no fire. The other access routes being blocked, they launched the boat 's skiff, retrieved the other two crew members and boarded a ship.
Once on board, the captain continued to send Mayday calls when two crew members returned to the Conception to search for survivors near the burning wreckage.
There was none.