As of press time Tuesday, Santa Barbara officials had released the identities of 27 of the 34 Conception victims. DNA samples were being confirmed for six more, and divers were still trying to recover the last person’s body. Here we’ve compiled the victims’ names as well as information on many of those whose families or friends issued public statements on their deaths.
27 Names Officially Released
Adrian Dahood-Fritz, 40, F, Sacramento
Andrew Fritz, 40, Sacramento
Raymond “Scott” Chan, 59, Los Altos
Kendra Chan, 26, Oxnard
Michael Quitasol, 62, Stockton
Fernisa Sison, 57, F, Stockton
Angela Rose Quitasol, 28, Stockton
Evan Michel Quitasol, 37, Stockton
Nicole Storm Quitasol, 31, Imperial Beach
Tia Salika-Adamic, 17, Santa Cruz
Carol Diana Adamic, 60, Santa Cruz
Steven Salika, 55, Santa Cruz
Vaidehi Campbell, 41, Felton, California
Caroline McLaughlin, 35, Oakland
Kristian Takvam, 34, M, San Francisco
Lisa Fiedler, 52, F, Mill Valley
Yulia Krashennaya, 40, Berkeley
Patricia Ann Beitzinger, 48, Chandler, Arizona
Neal Gustav Baltz, 42, Phoenix, Arizona
Charles McIlvain, 44, Santa Monica
Justin Carroll Dignam, 58, Anaheim
Daniel Garcia, 46, Berkeley
Ted Strom, 62, Germantown, Tennessee
Marybeth Guiney, 51 Santa Monica
Wei Tan, 26, Goleta
Alexandra Kurtz, 26, Santa Barbara
Kristina “Kristy” Finstad, 41, F, Tamrick Pines, California
7 Names Later Released
At the end of a press conference on September 12 turning the investigation over to the feds, Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown read the names of the victims, including the last seven to be identified. His office released their names:
Juha Pekka Ahopelto, 50, M, Sunnyvale
Berenice Felipe, 16, F, Santa Cruz
Yuko Hatano, 39, F, San Jose
Xiang Lin, 45, F, Fremont
Kaustubh Nirmal, 33, M, Stamford, CT
Sanjeeri DeoPujari (Nirmal), 31, F, Stamford, CT
Sumil Sandhu, 45, M, Half Moon Bay
What follows below are the brief profiles published in the September 12, 2019, issue of the Independent.
Neal Baltz and Patricia Beitzinger
Arizona couple Neal Baltz, 42, and Patricia Beitzinger, 48, were each other’s “adventure partners,” family and friends said. Baltz worked as an engineer for a semiconductor company and loved to make wine; Beitzinger worked as a nutritionist at an endocrinology practice and was remembered for her devotion to her patients. They’d traveled the world together, diving in the Caribbean, Fiji, and the Galapagos.
A father of two from Orange County, Justin Dignam, 58, was the founder and CEO of a payroll company. He was also a veteran polo player, having played for the University of Richmond and then coaching at Iona College and Wesleyan University. A neighbor told Orange County Register reporters that Dignam was “a great guy” who cared about his community. “He will be missed.”
Steve Salika, Diana Adamic, Tia Salika-Adamic, and Berenice Felipe
Santa Cruz husband and wife Steve Salika and Diana Adamic treated their daughter Tia Salika-Adamic and her close friend Berenice Felipe to a Conception diving trip to celebrate Tia’s 17th birthday. Steve, 55, worked at Apple Inc., where he met Adamic, 60, who was more recently volunteering at the county animal shelter. Both teens attended Pacific Collegiate charter school and also volunteered at the shelter.
An avid nature photographer, Lisa Fiedler, 52, of Mill Valley, worked as a hairdresser and thought of herself as “part fish,” her mother told ABC7 News, because of her love of diving. In a Facebook post last year, Fiedler described a dive trip to Mexico: “Petting an octopus on a night dive was another highlight. Wish I could stay here forever.”
Andrew Fritz and Adrian Dahood-Fritz
Adrian Dahood-Fritz, 40, served on the California Ocean Protection Council and previously worked for the National Science Foundation and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Governor Gavin Newsom said she “embodied marine conservation.” Her husband, Andrew Fritz, 40, was a photographer who had a “meteor” impact on the photo community in Austin, where he used to live, a friend told the Los Angeles Times.
Caroline McLaughlin and Kristian Takvam
Caroline “Carrie” McLaughlin, 35, and Kristian Takvam, 34, both worked for Brilliant, a website that creates interactive STEM courses. “Carrie and Kristian were incredible friends and colleagues who brought immense passion, talent, leadership, and warmth, and they will be missed dearly,” Brilliant chief executive Sue Khim said in a statement.
Sunil Singh Sandhu
Originally from Singapore, Sunil Singh Sandhu, 46, worked as a photonics senior scientist in Palo Alto. He’d taken up scuba diving just two months before his death. “I never had to worry about my son,” his father told Singapore’s New Paper. “He was a nice boy who had no bad habits.”
A staff physician at the Memphis Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Ted Strom, 62, was a professor at the University of Tennessee, where he taught health science. “His exceptional service to veterans as a staff physician is a testament to the type of person that he was,” the medical center director wrote in a statement. “He will certainly be missed.”
The UC Berkeley graduate had moved to Goleta only four months ago. Wei Tan, 26, had taken a job as a data scientist for a health-care technology company and was excited for her parents to visit from Malaysia over Christmas, her family told the Times. They said they were heartbroken but comforted knowing Wei “was doing something she loved in the last few moments of her life.”
Colleagues of Vaidehi “Vai” Williams, 41, at the Soquel Creek Water District in Santa Cruz remembered “her infectious smile, kind heart, vast knowledge, and adventurous spirit. … Vai will forever be our ‘Water Princess.’” Williams leaves behind a husband and two children.
The 12 victims identified by friends and relatives in the first week after the disaster appeared in the Independent‘s issue of September 5, 2019.