Dive boat owners say they should not be held financially responsible to the families of the victims who died during Monday’s California boat fire.
Reports said owners Glen and Dana Fritzler cited an 1851 maritime law, the Limitation of Shipowners’ Liability Act, and argued that they should not have to pay any money to the grieving families following the tragedy that occurred this week on board the 75-foot vessel Conception.
The court documents stated:
The Fire and all consequential alleged injuries, damages and deaths occurred without the privity or knowledge on the part of Plaintiffs, and was not caused or contributed to by any negligence, fault or knowledge on the part of Plaintiffs, or anyone for whom Plaintiffs may be responsible, at or prior to the commencement of the above-described voyage.
On Wednesday, authorities said 33 bodies of those who died during the boat fire off the coast of Santa Cruz Island had been recovered.
“The 33 passengers and one crew member were asleep below the deck of the Conception dive boat when the fire began early Monday morning,” Breitbart News reported.
The report also said the search for the fourth victim left crews “emotionally drained” as they surveyed the waters for hours at a time.
“Our priority is trying to find the last victim and also items that would be of interest to find out what happened. You want to bring closure to the families,” said Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Office Lt. Brian Olmstead.
However, CBS News Los Angeles reported Thursday that the body of the final victim has yet to be found.
Breitbart News reported Thursday that the boat’s crewmembers attempted to rescue those trapped inside the vessel but could not reach them because of the flames, smoke, and heat.
The report continued:
Speculation has grown about whether the captain and four other crew members who survived had tried to help others before jumping from the flaming vessel. Authorities said those sleeping in bunks below the main deck were trapped by the fire. But crew members told investigators that by the time they saw flames, it was too late.
“There’s such a tragedy with so many lives lost,” a Santa Barbara resident told reporters. “You have to hope that they will learn from this so it’ll never [happen] again and no other families and no other divers or people who enjoy nature have to have this horrendous experience again.”
Reports said the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is currently investigating the cause of the deadly blaze.