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California boat captain jailed for fire that killed 34

Image source, fake images

Screenshot, Jerry Boylan, right, was accused of failing to perform his duties as a ship’s officer.

A dive boat captain has been sentenced to four years in prison for the deaths of 34 people in a fire aboard his boat five years ago in California.

Jerry Boylan, 69, was convicted by a jury last year on one count of “seaman manslaughter.”

Prosecutors said Boylan failed to conduct nighttime patrol or conduct fire drills as required by law.

All 33 passengers and one crew member sleeping below deck died in one of California’s worst maritime disasters.

Prosecutors said the captain escaped, along with four crew members, without attempting to help them.

After a jury’s guilty verdict in Los Angeles last November, federal prosecutor Martin Estrada said the deaths had been caused by the “unforgivable cowardice” of the ship’s captain.

He said Boylan had neglected the performance of his duties by “failing to carry out any rescue or firefighting activities at the time of the fire, even though he was not injured.”

The fire occurred in the early hours of September 2, 2019, while the commercial dive boat Conception was moored in Platt Harbor near Santa Cruz Island, south of Santa Barbara. At the time, I had been organizing a diving expedition over the Labor Day holiday weekend.

The captain and crew members escaped by jumping overboard and swimming to another nearby ship. Crew members told investigators at the time that the flames were too intense to save anyone trapped in the passenger quarters.

The former captain’s request for a new trial was denied by a federal judge last month.

Among the victims of the tragedy are five members of a Californian family who were celebrating a birthday.

Michael Quitasol, his daughters Evan, Nicole and Angela Quitasol, and his wife, Fernisa Sison, were at the Concepción when the fire occurred.

Other victims include marine biologist Kristy Finstad, physics professor Scott Chan and his daughter Kendra, and Arizona couple Patricia Beitzinger and Neal Baltz.

The captain faced a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, according to Thom Mrozek, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles.