As of Thursday afternoon, all 34 Conception dive boat victims have been identified, the last missing victim was located, and the vessel itself was successfully brought to the water’s surface off Santa Cruz Island, Sheriff Bill Brown said. Local and state involvement in the ongoing investigation will begin “winding down,” he said, and their federal partners will take over investigating the cause of the catastrophic fire.
The final victim was located by a team of divers from the San Luis Obispo Sheriff’s Office and the Department of Fish and Wildlife in a cove directly adjacent and just to the west of Platts Harbor, Brown said. “It is a huge relief … no one has been left behind.”
The Coroner’s Office identified 33 of the victims through rapid DNA analysis technology from Ande Corporation, and the last through fingerprint identification. Brown credited Kimberly Gin, the Sacramento Coroner, as a huge help in identifying the victims in a timely manner. All families have since been notified, he said.
“May their families know that all of us involved in this sad operation continue to hold them in our hearts and prayers,” Brown said after reading off the name, age, and hometown of each victim.
The Conception itself was brought to the ocean surface today after the Coast Guard resumed the salvage operation yesterday. The next step, Brown said, is to barge the vessel to an undisclosed, secure location for investigation.
Brown confined his remarks to local agencies’ response, staying clear of the National Transportation Safety Board preliminary report, released today. It confirmed all crewmembers were sleeping when the fire broke out. See more here.
After the press conference, the Sheriff’s Office released the names of the last seven victims to be identified. They are:
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