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Federal Grand Jury Issues 34 Count Indictment Against Boat Captain In Deadly Channel Islands Fire

(Ventura County Fire Department photo)
The remains of the dive boat "Conception" after a September, 2019 fire in the Channel Islands which killed 34 people.

A federal grand jury indicted the captain of a dive boat which caught fire in the Channel Islands with 34 counts of manslaughter, with one count for each person who died in the inferno.  The grand jury says that as the master of the vessel, the captain of the "Conception" was responsible for the safety and security of those on board.

The 34 count indictment against Captain Jerry Boylan alleges the deaths were the result of misconduct, negligence, and inattention to his duties.

It cites the lack of a roving night patrol which might have detected the fire.  It also charges Boylan with failing to conduct adequate crew training, and fire drills. 

The Santa Barbara man hasn’t had a chance to respond to the charges yet.  Each of the 34 counts carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison.  

Federal investigators were unable to pinpoint the cause of the early morning fire, which trapped its victims below deck as they were asleep.  But, they think it might have been electrical in nature, possibly caused by charging cell phone batteries.