Dive Boat Captain Indicted on 34 Counts of Seaman’s Manslaughter

The captain of the Conception dive boat that burst into flames and sank off the California coast in 2019, killing 34 passengers while they slept, was indicted with 34 counts of federal manslaughter, U.S. prosecutors said on Tuesday.

The captain of the Conception dive boat that burst into flames and sank off the California coast in 2019, killing 34 passengers while they slept, was indicted with 34 counts of federal manslaughter, U.S. prosecutors said on Tuesday.

According to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California, each charge of seaman’s manslaughter set against Jerry Nehl Boylan, 67, carries a statutory maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison if he gets convicted.

“As a result of the alleged failures of Capt. Boylan to follow well-established safety rules, a pleasant holiday dive trip turned into a hellish nightmare as all passengers and one crew member found themselves trapped in a fiery bunkroom with no means of escape,” the United States Attorney Nick Hanna said in a statement.

As the captain of the vessel, Boylan’s indictment accuses him of being “responsible for the safety and security of the vessel, its crew, and its passengers.”

Prosecutors said that Boylan’s “misconduct, negligence, and inattention to his duties” have caused the tragedy which was deemed as one of the deadliest maritime disasters in California.

“The loss of life that day will forever impact the families of the 34 victims,” Hanna added.

The federal prosecutors’ indictment came as the National Transportation Safety Board concluded its investigation into the fire incident last month. 

The 33 passengers of the liveaaboard scuba diving vessel were asleep in the lower level bunk room when the blaze broke out on Sept. 2, 2019, while it was anchored near Santa Cruz Island.

Boylan is expected to surrender to the authorities in the coming weeks.


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