SANTA BARBARA (CBSLA) — Flowers, candles and even a pair of scuba fins marked the dock in Santa Barbara where the Conception Charter Boat was scheduled to return Monday night.
In what is now one of the worst boating tragedies in California history, the United States Coast Guard has confirmed that 25 people are dead and nine are still missing.
The five crew members who survived — two with leg injuries — were brought to safety by a pair of good Samaritans who happened to be anchored nearby.
“I heard ‘Help,'” Shirley Hanson said. “And my husband got up, and I followed him and he opened the door and saw the flames.
Shirley and her husband Bob said some of the crew members who were able to get to safety attempted to return to the burning vessel to help those still aboard, but were thwarted by the sheer size of the flames.
“And he cried, because he said they celebrated three birthdays that night, and one of them was a 17-year-old girl who was there with her parents,” Shirley said.
As word of the fire got out, families with loved ones on the boat rushed to the harbor, including a heartbroken couple whose son they said was on the boat.
Diane McCullough who lives in Santa Barbara fears that she will know someone who was on the boat, but she said the community will come together to help those mourning this tragedy.
“Just like every other city that has had some trauma across the nation, I mean everybody pulls together,” she said. “And that’s what we will do.”
A family crisis center was set up just down the street from the harbor where officials said 20 families came Monday after hearing the news. Officials expect even more to show up in the following days.