Twenty bodies have been recovered after the horrific boat fire aboard a dive boat, the Conception, off the southern coast of California over Labor Day. There were thirty-nine on board.
The only people who survived were five of six crew members, including the captain. Nine are missing. Five of the twenty-five spotted were not yet recovered because it’s too dangerous to retrieve them.
The fire spread quickly in the middle of the night as the passengers slept. A cook was in the galley preparing breakfast.
Four of the bodies showed signs of drowning.
They had celebrated three birthdays that night, one was for a 17-year-old.
The Distress Call
Conception captain, Jerry Boylan, can be heard telling a Coast Guard dispatcher that all of his passengers are trapped below deck ‘with no escape hatch’.
“There are thirty-three people on board the vessel on fire. They can’t get off,” the captain says.
The dispatcher responds: “Roger. Are they locked inside the boat? Roger. Can you get back on board and unlock the doors so they can get off? Roger. You don’t have any firefighter gear at all, no fire extinguishers or anything?”
It’s unclear if something blocked their path or they locked it.
Most of the captain’s responses are unintelligible, except for the words: “I can’t breathe.”