The charred wreckage of the ill-fated Conception dive boat was raised from the ocean floor near Santa Cruz Island on Thursday, and will be transported to a secure location for the investigation into the fire and sinking that killed 34 people on Sept. 2.
The U.S. Coast Guard has been overseeing the Conception salvage operation, which was halted over the weekend due to rough weather.
The wreckage, which was gingerly lifted from the ocean floor 65 feet below, was placed on a barge, to be taken to an undisclosed location, and turned over to the National Transportation Safety Board, which is searching for the cause of the fatal incident, Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said Thursday afternoon during a press conference in front of sheriff’s headquarters near Santa Barbara.
The Santa Barbara County Fire Department has an investigator “embedded” in the federal investigation into the cause and origin of the vessel’s fire, county Fire Chief Mark Hartwig said.
A preliminary NTSB report released Thursday confirmed that no members of the Conception crew were awake at the time of the fire, despite apparent requirements that someone stand watch at all times.
Meanwhile, Brown announced that dive teams have recovered the remains of all 34 victims, confirmed their identies, and notified their next of kin.
The body of the last missing victim, a woman whose name was not released, was recovered by divers Wednesday in a cove not far from where the Conception sunk, Brown said.
Like all the other victims, the woman is believed to have died from smoke inhalation prior to her body being damaged by the fire, Brown said.
Most of the victims were identified using a rapid DNA process, Brown said, although one was identified through fingerprints.
Full autopsies were not done on any of the victims, Brown said, because limited examinations seemed to confirm smoke inhalation as their cause of death.
During Thursday’s press conference, Brown read off the names of all the victims:
» 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.
» Wei Tan, 26, of Goleta.
Brown said the hearts of all the first responders involved go out to the families of those who died in the tragedy.
He also commended all the partner agencies — on the local, state and national level — who responded to what has been described as the most deadly incident in modern county history, and have helped with the investigation and the search for victims.
In particular, he noted the difficult work done by the dive teams, who had the “physically and emotionally challenging task” of searching for and recovering the bodies.
Noozhawk executive editor Tom Bolton contributed to this report.