Captain Of Boat Which Burned In Channel Islands, Killing 34, Arraigned On Manslaughter Charges

Feb 16, 2021

The captain of the dive boat which caught on fire in the Channel Islands in 2019, leaving 34 people dead was formally charged Tuesday with nearly three dozen felony criminal counts as a result of the disaster.

Jerry Boylan is facing prosecution on some rare federal maritime charges.

In September of 2019, the Santa Barbara based "Conception" was on an excursion in the Channel Islands when a fire occurred in the middle of the night.

33 passengers, and one crew member were trapped below deck by what investigators think was an electrical fire. All 34 people died of smoke inhalation.  Investigators say the boat failed to maintain a roving night patrol which might have led to an earlier discovery of the fire.

Boylan was arraigned in federal court in Los Angeles on 34 counts of what’s known as “seaman’s manslaughter.”  It’s a seldom used pre-Civil war law designed to hold steamboat captains, and crew members responsible for negligence which led to fatal accidents.

Boylan entered a not guilty plea.  A trial was set for March 30th.  Some family members were on hand at the federal courthouse Tuesday, saying they want to see justice done for their loved ones.