Conception boat fire: NTSB schedules hearing to review final report on blaze that killed 34 off Santa Barbara Coast

LOS ANGELES (CNS) -- The National Transportation Safety Board on Tuesday announced it will hold an Oct. 20 meeting on the agency's investigation of the fire aboard a dive boat off the coast of Santa Barbara last Labor Day weekend that killed 34 people, including two Santa Monica residents.

Marybeth Guiney and Charles McIlvain, diving enthusiasts who lived in the same Santa Monica condominium complex, were among the nearly three dozen people trapped aboard the Conception when it sank amid a three-day Labor Day weekend diving trip to the Channel Islands.

The 75-foot commercial diving vessel was anchored in Platts Harbor off Santa Cruz Island when it caught fire in the early morning hours last Sept. 2, killing one crew member and all 33 passengers. Only five people, all crew members, were able to escape the inferno.

Attorneys representing 4 families of victims killed in Conception boat disaster blame owner, captain
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When the Conception dive boat burned and sank off the coast of Santa Cruz Island last September, it took 34 lives with it. It is the deadliest maritime disaster in California in more than 150 years.

The NTSB's five-member board will vote on the agency's findings, probable cause and recommendations, as well as any changes to the draft final report.

In keeping with established social distancing guidelines to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the board meeting will be webcast to the public, with the board members and investigative staff meeting virtually.

Lawsuits filed by victims' families allege that the 41-year-old Conception was in blatant violation of numerous Coast Guard regulations, including failing to maintain an overnight roving'' safety watch and failure to provide a safe means for storing and charging lithium-ion batteries, and that the below-decks passenger accommodations lacked emergency exits.
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