All 34 Killed in Boat Fire Off Santa Cruz Island Identified

All 34 people killed in the Labor Day boat fire off Santa Cruz Island have been identified, and their loved ones have been notified, authorities said Thursday.

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office released the names of seven more victims of the tragedy.

The victims include: Juha Pekka Ahopelto, 50, of Sunnyvale; Berenice Felipe, 16, of Santa Cruz; Xiang Lin, 45, of Fremont; Sanjeeri DeoPujari (Nirmal), 31, and Kaustubh Nirmal, 33, both of Stamford, Connecticut; Sumil Sandhu, 45, Half Moon Bay; and Yuko Hatano, 39, of San Jose.

“No one has been left behind,” Sheriff Bill Brown said.

A woman cries as she stands in front of a makeshift memorial in Santa Barbara Harbor for victims of the Conception boat fire on Sept. 3, 2019. (Credit: Mario Tama/Getty Images)

A woman cries as she stands in front of a makeshift memorial in Santa Barbara Harbor for victims of the Conception boat fire on Sept. 3, 2019. (Credit: Mario Tama/Getty Images)

All but one of the victims were identified through DNA testing, Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said at a Thursday news conference.

The three-day diving excursion through the Channel Islands ended when flames swept through the boat as 33 divers and a crew member slept below deck.

The fire quickly engulfed the boat, killing all aboard the Conception, except for five crew members who who were on the main deck and managed to escape the blaze before the dive vessel sunk off Santa Cruz Island.

A garbled mayday call launched an hourslong rescue and firefighting operation, followed by a 10-day salvage operation and a criminal investigation into what ignited the flames and whether safety procedures were followed.

It took days for divers to find all the bodies. Authorities said all the victims likely died of smoke inhalation.

The last missing victim, a woman, was found by a team of divers searching a cove adjacent to Platts Harbor Wednesday. Her body was in the same general area as the other victims, according to Brown.

The U.S. Coast Guard was overseeing the boat’s salvage operation since it resumed Wednesday.

By Thursday afternoon, the charred remains of the boat had been raised to the surface and lifted onto a barge to be taken to an “undisclosed secure location” for investigation, the sheriff said.

Brown said both the rescue and the salvage operations were particularly difficult and lengthy because of the boat’s relatively remote location, and because so many lives were lost.

“This was a very challenging case all around,” the sheriff said, thanking the first responders and the involved agencies for their efforts. “Theirs was a physically and emotionally challenging task.”

The victims included scientists, nurses, students, a photographer, a teacher and government employees.

Some were family members. One mother said she lost three daughters in the fire.  And a 17-year-old celebrating her birthday was killed in the fire along with her parents.

The full list of victims:

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