Last week, one of the worst maritime accidents in California history claimed the lives of 34 people. It occurred when The Conception, a dive boat owned and operated by Truth Aquatics, caught fire on Labor Day. The vessel was just off the coast of Santa Cruz Island. Authorities have been able to recover 33 of the bodies from the accident. Now, officials believe that they’ve recovered the remains of the last missing person.
In a tweet on Wednesday afternoon, officials announced news of the recovering of the body. The process of recovering remains has been challenging because victims of the accident were trapped on the boat as it burned during the early hours of September 2. The sheriff’s office confirmed that DNA testing is currently underway to verify the identity of seven of the victims.
Highest-Level Casualty Investigation Opened for Conception Incident
On Wednesday, the Coast Guard assistant commandant for prevention policy, Rear Adm. Richard Timme, announced that he convened a formal Marine Board Investigation (MBI) to investigate the fire. A commandant-directed MBI such as this is the highest level of marine casual investigations done by the Coast Guard.
All four members of the marine board will look at every aspect of the accident, including any events which happened before the loss of The Conception. The board will also examine crewmember duties and qualifications, weather conditions, safety equipment, and Coast Guard oversight. Notably, the ship had passed all recent safety inspections—the MBI will scrutinize the findings of these results. An MBI is a detailed investigation, and the Coast Guard asserts that it could take a year or more to complete.
The MBI Will Determine the Following:
- The factors that contributed to the accident.
- Whether there is evidence that any act of misconduct, inattention to duty, negligence or willful violation of the law on the part of any licensed or certificated person contributed to the casualty.
- Whether there is evidence that any Coast Guard personnel or any representative or employee of any other government agency or any other person caused or contributed to the casualty.
In addition to this Coast Guard investigation, Arnold & Itkin previously reported on other investigations. These will involve the Coast Guard Investigative Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, the Department of Justice, the U.S. Attorneys Office, and the National Transportation Safety Board.