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Officials identify remaining boat fire victims, 15 from Bay Area


Officials on Thursday identified the last of the victims in a tragic boat fire that left 34 dead off the coast of Santa Barbara on Labor Day.

Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown named the victims during a news conference in Santa Barbara Thursday afternoon. Brown said all of the victims’ remains have been recovered.

Santa Barbara Sheriff's Office The National Transportation Safety Board launched an investigation into the fire that engulfed the dive boat “Conception” and claimed the lives of 34 people on board Monday, September 2, 2019. Many passengers were from Northern California and the Bay Area.

Brown said of the investigation:

“It has been all around a really challenging operation. Also the fact that there were so many casualties and so many innocent people that lost their lives in this, it has been emotionally charged as well as physically difficult for the people involved.”

The last victim recovered was a woman, Brown said, who was found in a cove adjacent and just west of Platts Harbor. Family members for all of the victims, who were 33 passengers of the dive boat and one crewmember, have been contacted, Brown said.

Five crewmembers, including the vessel’s captain, were the only survivors of the fire.

The majority of the victims hailed from California. Fifteen were from the Bay Area; they were residents of Berkeley, Fremont, Half Moon Bay, Los Altos, Mill Valley, Oakland, Santa Cruz, San Francisco, San Jose and Sunnyvale. Other victims were from Connecticut, Tennessee and Arizona. Their ages ranged from 16 to 62.

The victims were: Carol Diana Adamic, 60, of Santa Cruz; Juha Pekka Ahopelto, 50, of Sunnyvale; Neal Gustav Baltz, 42, of Phoenix, Arizona; Patricia Ann Beitzinger, 48, of Chandler Arizona; Vaidehi Campbell, 41, of Felton; Raymond “Scott” Chan, 59, of Los Altos; Kendra Chan, 26, of Oxnard; Adrian Dahood-Fritz, 40, of Sacramento; Justin Carroll Dignam, 58, of Anaheim; Berenice Felipe, 16, of Santa Cruz; Lisa Fiedler, 52, of Mill Valley; Kristina “Kristy” Finstad, 41, of Santa Cruz; Andrew Fritz, 40, of Sacramento; Daniel Garcia, 46, of Berkeley; Marybeth Guiney, 51, of Santa Monica; Yuko Hatano, 39, of San Jose; Yulia Krashennaya, 40, of Berkeley; Alexandra Kurtz, 26, of Santa Barbara; Xiang Lin, 45, of Fremont; Caroline McLaughlin, 35, of Oakland; Charles McIlvain, 44, of Santa Monica; Kaustubh Nirmal, 33, of Stamford, Connecticut; Sanjeeri DeoPujari (Nirmal), 31, of Stamford, Connecticut; Angela Rose Quitasol, 28, of Stockton; Evan Michel Quitasol, 37, of Stockton; Nicole Storm Quitasol, 31, of Imperial Beach; Michael Quitasol, 62, of Stockton; Steven Salika, 55, of Santa Cruz; Tia Salika-Adamic, 17, of Santa Cruz; Sumil Sandhu, 45, of Half Moon Bay; Fernisa Sison, 57, of Stockton; Ted Strom, 62, of Germantown, Tennessee; Kristian Takvam, 34, of San Francisco; and Wei Tan, 26, of Goleta.

Officials had previously said the main cause of death was smoke inhalation. Brown said Thursday that the cause of the fire was still under investigation.

Santa Barbara Sheriff's Office A fire that erupted on the Conception dive boat in the early morning hours of Monday, September 2, 2019 near Santa Barabara, Calif. killed 34 people.

A preliminary report released by the National Transportation Safety Board also says the cause is under investigation. The NTSB report said that all crewmembers had been asleep when the boat caught fire as it was anchored off Santa Cruz Island during what should have been a three-day diving trip.

The vessel, called the Conception, was lifted to the water’s surface Thursday from about 60 feet below the surface.

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