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Wrongful death lawyer Elliot Olsen has regained millions for people who have lost a loved one to a wrongful death. If you lost a loved one in this horrific California boat tragedy, please call Elliot at (612) 337-6126 for a free consultation. Elliot understands the hardship and loss that is suffered after a wrongful death. He can help as you recover from such a devastating loss.

Twenty-five bodies have been found and nine remain missing after a California boat tragedy off the coast of Ventura County early Monday morning.

The Conception, a 75-foot diving and fishing vessel owned by Truth Aquatics, was anchored about 20 yards off Santa Cruz Island when it caught fire shortly after 3 a.m., said Mike Eliason, a spokesman for the Santa Barbara County Fire Department.

Multiple agencies were at the scene, where five crew members who jumped overboard were rescued by a good Samaritan’s pleasure boat, according to the U.S. Coast Guard. One of the five rescued crew members sustained a broken leg.

The Conception sank in 64 feet of water as firefighters battled the fire, which left the bow of the boat protruding from the water.

The identities of the 25 victims were not immediately released, and the cause of the fire is unknown. Officials said it appears to have been an accident and there are no indications of an intentional act, but they said the investigation will take time.

California boat tragedy:
20 bodies recovered

Of the 25 bodies located, 20 were physically recovered. The remaining five have been located but cannot be removed from the water because of unsafe conditions under the Conception, a Coast Guard spokesperson told the Associated Press.

Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said it could take some time to identify the deceased because of the condition of the bodies and because officials do not have a full manifest of everyone who was on board. DNA testing will be needed to identify most of the remains.

The search teams are going to continue working until the nine remaining people are found.

California boat tragedy: 25 dead, 9 still missing

Twenty-five bodies have been found and nine still are missing after a California boat tragedy off the coast of Ventura County in the early-morning hours Monday.

California boat tragedy:
‘Worst-case scenario’

Brown said the situation – a boat fire in the middle of the night, with people trapped below deck – is one of the most difficult operations for rescue crews.

“This is probably the worst-case scenario you could possibly have,” Brown said. “Fire is the scourge of any ship.”

The boat trip started off Saturday as a Labor Day weekend dive trip that was scheduled to return to Santa Barbara Harbor today (Sept. 3). Of the 39 people onboard the Conception, six were crew members, one of whom is among the missing.

Passengers who were below deck likely were sound asleep when the fire started. The boat was in a remote location, and there was limited firefighting capability aboard. “You couldn’t ask for a worse situation,” Brown said.

California boat tragedy:
Conditions difficult

At a Tuesday morning press conference in Oxnard, a Coast Guard spokesperson said the five crew members who escaped were awake and on the bridge of the boat when the fire started. They jumped off the boat and escaped on a dingy. The five were pulled from the water after banging on Bob and Shirley Hansen’s boat.

The Hansens were on a fishing trip when they awoke to that banging sound. Bob Hansen said he looked over the side of his boat and saw five people in their underwear, and then he looked out and saw another boat in the distance, engulfed in flames.

“Flames probably 30 feet high,” he said. “It was totally gone.”

California boat tragedy:
Info for family members

The rescue operation is being supported by helicopters, small boats, and a patrol cutter.

Family members looking for information about loved ones can call (833) 688-5551. A family assistance center also has been established, at Earl Warren Showgrounds (3400 Calle Real) in Santa Barbara. For information about the center, call (805) 696-1188.

California boat tragedy:
About the Channel Islands

Santa Cruz Island is part of the Channel Islands, which form an eight-island archipelago along the Santa Barbara Channel in the Pacific Ocean. Five of the islands are part of Channel Islands National Park, and the waters surrounding these islands make up Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary.


People left behind after a wrongful death could be eligible for compensation for:

  • Sorrow, mental anguish, and loss of solace, including loss of companionship, comfort, and guidance.
  • Any reasonably expected loss in income of the decedent suffered by the survivor(s).
  • Any reasonably expected loss of services, protection, care, and/or assistance that the decedent provided to the survivor(s).
  • Reasonable funeral expenses.

Wrongful death lawyer Elliot Olsen has decades of experience representing people who lost a loved one to a wrongful death. You can contact him for a free consultation by filling out this form and submitting it: