California

What we know about the victims of the deadly dive boat fire in Southern California

Authorities have recovered 33 bodies and one person is still missing after a fatal dive boat fire off the Channel Islands on Labor Day.

All 34 are presumed dead, authorities said at a Tuesday morning news conference. Thirty-nine people were aboard the boat — 33 passengers and six crew members. Five crew members escaped from the burning boat.

Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said authorities will need to identify the bodies through DNA analysis, using the same tool used to identify victims of the Camp Fire in Butte County last year, as many of the bodies “exhibit signs of extreme thermal damage.”

The Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Office on Friday released 23 victims’ names after they were identified and their families were notified. Others have been identified by friends, family and places of work.

Here’s what we know.

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Screenshot from Facebook

Kristy Finstad

Finstad was a marine biologist who was helping to lead a weekend diving trip, her brother, Brett Harmeling, told the Santa Cruz Sentinel. Finstad was also a diving instructor and ran Worldwide Diving Adventures, based in Santa Cruz, with her husband.

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Nicole, Christina, Michael, Evanmichel and Angela Rose Quitasol of Stockton, Calif. are pictured in a family photo. Christina was not aboard the dive boat Conception when a fire broke out early Monday September 2, 2019. Courtesy of Quitasol Family

Evan Quitasol, Nicole Quitasol, Angela Quitasol, Michael Quitasol and Fernisa Sison

Evan Quitasol, 37, was a nurse at St. Joseph’s Medical Center of Stockton, the Associated Press reported. She was on the boat with her sisters, Nicole and Angela, and her father and his wife.

Nicole Quitasol, 37, worked at Nicky Rottens Bar & Burger Joint on Coronado Island near San Diego and was an “adventurous & loving soul,” according to the GoFundMe set up by her employer to help with funeral costs for all five family members that were on the boat.

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Nicole Quitasol and four family members were among those killed in the deadly dive boat fire off Santa Cruz Island. gofundme.com

Angela Quitasol, 28, taught seventh grade science at Sierra Middle School in Stockton, the Sacramento Bee reported. Paul Kimball, one of Angela’s former teachers, said she was “the cool teacher and the good teacher” who genuinely listened to others.

A Kaiser Permanente spokeswoman confirmed to the Modesto Bee that Michael Quitasol, 62, worked as a registered nurse at the Kaiser hospitals in Modesto and Manteca. He was married to Fernisa Sison and was the father of Nicole, Angela and Evan Quitasol, KCRA reported.

Sison was also a registered nurse, and worked at Kaiser medical offices in Stockton, the Modesto Bee reported. The family was celebrating Michael’s birthday, the Sacramento Bee reported.

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A photo left at a memorial for the victims of the Conception vessel reads “I love you Allie - and you know I always Will! I’ll miss you forever. Rob,” placed at the Sea Landing at Santa Barbara Harbor in Santa Barbara, Calif., Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2019. Officials say no one likely escaped the flames that tore through a boat packed with scuba divers and the search for survivors has been called off. (AP Photo/Christian Monterrosa) Christian Monterrosa AP

Alexandra Kurtz

Kurtz, 25, of Santa Barbara was a crew member on the boat, family members told WKRC in Cincinnati. She grew up in Chicago and moved to Los Angeles to get into movies before becoming a dive instructor, according to the television station.

Charles “Chuck” McIlvain

McIlvain, 44, of Santa Monica worked at Sony Pictures Imageworks in Culver City and “was someone who people cherished every moment with,” Culver City Councilman Alex Fisch told the Los Angeles Times.

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This undated photo provided by the Fremont, Calif., School District shows physics teacher Scott Chan. While authorities have not yet released the names of any victims, a district representative says Chan was one of those aboard the dive boat Conception that burned and sank off Santa Cruz Island Sunday, Sept. 1, 2019. (Fremont School District via AP) Fremont School District via AP

Raymond “Scott” Chan and Kendra Chan

Chan, 59, of Los Altos was a high school physics teacher in Fremont, and was known as an “innovative and inspiring teacher,” the Fremont Unified School District said in a statement to SFGate.

Chan, 26, who lived in Oxnard and was a wildlife biologist, was Scott Chan’s daughter, KTVU reported. The father and daughter were “avid scuba divers and had been diving together for years.”

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This November 2018 photo provided by Margo Peyton shows, from left, Diana Ademic, Berenice Felipa, Steve Salika and Tia Salika enjoying a dive during their 2018 Thanksgiving vacation trip at a Kids Sea Camp week at Buddy Dive Resort off Bonaire, a Netherlands-administered island in the Leeward Antilles off the coast of Venezuela. All four were aboard the dive boat Conception and all died in the fire that swept the vessel on Sept. 2, 2019 off the coast of Southern California. (Margo Peyton via AP) Margo Peyton AP

Steve Salika, Carol Diana Adamic, Tia Salika and Berenice Felipe

Salika, 55, of Santa Cruz had been with Apple for 30 years, Deirdre O’Brien, senior vice president at the company, told the Mercury News. He was on the boat with his wife, Diana Adamic, and daughter, Tia.

Adamic, 60, of Santa Cruz was Steve Salika’s wife and Tia Salika’s mother, the Mercury News reported.

Tia Salika of Santa Cruz was celebrating her 17th birthday, according to the Mercury News.

Felipe was a close friend of Tia Salika’s, the Los Angeles Times reported. The friends volunteered at the Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter.

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People pause on Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2019, to pay their respects at a makeshift memorial in Santa Barbara, Calif., for victims of a deadly fire aboard a dive boat a day earlier. The fire broke out on the 75-foot dive boat Conception early Monday morning as the victims slept below decks. (Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times/TNS) Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times/TNS

Andrew Fritz and Adrian Dahood-Fritz

Fritz, 40, of Sacramento was known for his photography skills. He and his wife, Adrian Dahood-Fritz, volunteered with animals , the Austin American-Statesman reported.

Dahood-Fritz and her husband, Andrew Fritz, had recently moved from Texas to California for her job in Sacramento, the Austin American-Statesman reported.

Daniel Garcia and Yulia Krashennaya

Garcia, 46, of Berkeley was also an Apple employee, Deirdre O’Brien confirmed to SFGate. Garcia was “as passionate about his job at Apple as he was about his love of diving.”

Krashennaya, 40, of Berkeley was Garcia’s partner, ABC 7 reported.

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Carrie McLaughlin and Kristian Takvam were employees of the education platform Brilliant in San Francisco. AP

Carrie McLaughlin and Kristian Takvam

McLaughlin, 35, of Oakland and Takvam were employees at Brilliant, a company based in San Francisco, KTVU reported.

“Carrie and Kristian were incredible friends and colleagues who brought immense passion, talent, leadership and warmth and they will be missed dearly,” Brilliant said in a statement.

Lisa Fiedler

Fiedler “was a kind, gentle person” who loved nature, her mother, Nancy Fiedler, told KGO. Fiedler was a photographer and hairdresser in Mill Valley in the Bay Area.

Sanjeeri Deopujari and Kaustubh Nirmal

Deopujari, a dentist was aboard the boat with her husband, Kaustubh Nirmal, who worked in finance the Times of India reported. The pair lived in Connecticut.

Patricia Beitzinger and Neal Baltz

Beitzinger, 48, was on the boat with Neal Baltz, 42, her longtime boyfriend, according to the Los Angeles Times. Both were from Phoenix, Baltz’s father, John Baltz, confirmed to ABC 15.

Baltz and Beitzinger “went to heaven doing something they loved together,” John Baltz told ABC 15.

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This 2017 photo provided by Heal The Bay shows Marybeth Guiney during a Heal The Bay beach cleanup project at Will Rogers State Beach in the Pacific Palisades area of Los Angeles. Guiney was among the 34 people who died aboard the dive boat Conception near Santa Cruz Island on Sept. 2, 2019. (Heal The Bay via AP) Heal the Bay AP

Marybeth Guiney

Guiney, 51, of Santa Monica, was identified as one of the victims in a Facebook post by Malibu Divers, along with Charles McIlvain. She was a sales director and ocean enthusiast who often went diving with McIlvain and his wife, according to NBC 4.

Xiang Lin

Lin, who loved outdoor activities like hiking and scuba diving, was a partner at Acorn Summit Ventures in the Bay Area, her family told the Los Angeles Times.

Justin Carroll Dignam

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office identified Dignam, 58, of Anaheim as a Conception passenger on Friday.

Dignam was an avid water polo player and the founder and chief executive of a payroll company, Big Fish Employer Services, according to the Los Angeles Times.

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This undated photo provided by Maggie Strom shows her husband, Ted Strom. who is one of the 34 people who died in the fire aboard the dive boat Conception on Sept. 2, 2019 Strom, 62, was a staff physician at the Memphis Veterans Affairs Medical Center. He was also an associate professor at the University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center, and taught hematopathology and transfusion medicine to medical students and residents, according to his profile on LinkedIn. (Maggie Strom via AP) Maggie Strom AP

Ted Strom

Strom, 62, of Germantown, Tennessee, was identified as Conception passenger by the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Office on Friday.

He was an associate professor at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center and a physician at the Memphis Veterans Affairs Medical Center, according to the Memphis Commercial Appeal.

Wei Tan

Tan, 26, of Goleta was identified as Conception passenger by the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Office on Friday.

She received a graduate degree in industrial engineering and operations research from UC Berkeley and was working as a data scientist at Evidation Health in Santa Barbara, according to her LinkedIn profile.

Tan, who is originally from Singapore, grew up diving with her family, Cheerin Tan, her sister, told Channel News Asia.

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Sunil Singh Sandhu

Sandhu, a Palo Alto research scientist, earned master’s and doctoral degrees in electrical engineering from Stanford, according to the New Paper and his LinkedIn.

Sandu, who is originally from Singapore, started diving only two months ago, Sunil Singh, his father, told the New Paper.

“I told him to be careful because scuba diving can be a dangerous sport,” Singh said. “I didn’t know that he was going for another trip. I had been trying to persuade him to come back to Singapore.”

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This July 4, 2019 photo provided by the Soquel Creek Water District shows Vaidehi Williams in Aptos, Calif. She was one of the 34 people aboard who perished when the dive boat Conception burned off the coast of Southern California on Sept. 2, 2019. (Melanie Mow Schumacher/Soquel Creek Water District via AP) Melanie Mow Schumacher AP

Vaidehi “Vai” Williams

Williams, 41, of Felton was married with two children, according to a GoFundMe page set up to raise money for her family.

She was known professionally as Vai Campbell and worked for the Soquel Creek Water District, according to the SEIU Local 521 Facebook page.

“Vaidehi has touched so many people from so many walks of life,” the GoFundMe page reads. “Anyone who has spent just a little time with her has been enchanted by her energy and felt the instant warmth of her friendship. She had a way of bringing people together, and seized every opportunity to live life to its fullest.”

This list will be updated as more victims are identified.

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