Captain of ‘Conception’ dive boat sentenced

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Photo courtest Ventura County Fire Department

The captain of the “Conception” dive boat that caught fire and sank, killing 34 people, has been sentenced to four years in prison. Jerry Boylan, 70, was sentenced May 2 for his part in the tragedy off the coast of Santa Barbara on Labor Day 2019. The fire is considered the worst maritime disaster in modern California history. Thirty-three passengers and one crew member were trapped below deck when a fire erupted on the ship. Boylan and four other crew members jumped overboard in the predawn disaster. At the sentencing hearing, victims’ families were allowed to make statements. One mother who lost her husband and three daughters spoke of the agony she’s lived through the past five years. Boylan’s attorney read his client’s statement that said, “It was my goal to bring everyone home safely — and I failed.” Under the captain’s watch, a roving night patrol was required as well as fire training for the captain and crew. Evidence presented at the trial showed a series of failures on Boylan’s part, including inattention, gross negligence, and misconduct that led to the deaths. Boylan was reported as the first to abandon ship.