Boat Captain Convicted Over Deadly Maritime Disaster

According to The Associated Press, a scuba dive boat skipper, Jerry Boylan, 69, was found guilty of gross negligence on Monday for his role in the 2019 California shipwreck that claimed the lives of 34 people.

In a case that dates back to before the Civil War and was commonly referred to as “seaman’s manslaughter,” the captain was found guilty on one count of neglect of a ship officer.

When the Conception caught fire on September 2, 2019, before sunrise, Boylan was at the helm. The ship was anchored off Santa Cruz Island. The tragic event occurred on the third and final day of the trip. As flames consumed the stairway and the escape hatch, 33 passengers and one crew member were trapped in a windowless bed chamber below deck on Labor Day.

Boylan, a boat captain for 34 years, was charged with negligence for neglecting to have a rotating night watch or to provide fire safety training to his crew. The U.S. Attorney’s Office has stated that the fire on the 75-foot boat could have been prevented if a roving watch had been in place.

Boylan’s incompetent, unprepared staff completely panicked when the fire started. A crew member allegedly ran past, two times, a fire hose that was 50 feet long during the chaos.

Prosecutors said that Boylan abandoned his ship by jumping overboard after awakening from his slumber when the fire broke out. In addition, four crew members jumped ship and made it to safety.

The fire’s origin is still unknown, but may have started in a garbage can.

The only individual facing criminal charges concerning the incident is the boat captain, who will be sentenced on February 8. He faces up to 10 years in prison. As they left the courthouse, his public defenders remained silent.

The United States Attorney Martin Estrada declared that Boylan had “failed, absolutely failed” in his job.

In a press conference, Estrada emphasized that the captain is ultimately accountable for the well-being of all passengers.

The Conception caught fire and sank less than a hundred feet from the coast while anchored off Santa Cruz Island, 25 miles south of Santa Barbara.