Captain of 2019 Conception Dive Boat fire convicted of “seaman’s manslaughter”
The captain of a dive boat involved in one of the worst maritime disasters in US history, off the coast of Santa Barbara, has been found guilty of criminal negligence.
In 2019, a boat called the Conception caught fire, killing 34 people.
In a Los Angeles federal court, prosecutors argued that the captain, Jerry Boylan, failed to take legally required safety measures that could have prevented the accident — like having someone keep watch on the boat at night and training his crew in firefighting.
Brett Harmeling is the brother of Kristy Finstad, one of the passengers who died onboard. He told our California Newsroom partner, KAZU in Monterey, that the guilty verdict doesn't ease his grief, and it won’t bring his sister back.
“It just brings up a new wave of sadness,” Harmeling said.
After a day of deliberation, jurors convicted Boylan of “seaman’s manslaughter”; that’s a legal term dating back to the 19th century to hold ship captains accountable for deaths at sea caused by negligence.
When the ship caught fire, Boylan abandoned ship and jumped overboard, along with four crew members who also survived.
The cause of the fire remains undetermined.
Boylan could face up to a decade in prison, and his sentencing is scheduled for February 8th.