SANTA BARBARA (CBSLA) — The last missing victim of the deadly dive boat fire off Santa Cruz Island that claimed the lives of 34 people was found Wednesday, as the United States Coast Guard issues new safety requirements in the wake of the disaster.
Authorities confirmed Wednesday that all 34 bodies had been recovered. Five of the boat’s crew members survived the blaze.
The Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Office announced on Twitter that, ” The Conception Incident Unified Command is relieved to report that search and recovery efforts today were successful in locating the last missing victim. DNA testing is still being conducted to confirm identities of 7 of the 34 victims recovered.”
Investigators said they would attempt to pull the boat’s wreckage from the ocean floor Thursday.
The Conception Incident Unified Command is relieved to report that search and recovery efforts today were successful in locating the last missing victim. DNA testing is still being conducted to confirm identities of 7 of the 34 victims recovered.#conception
— SB Sheriff's Office (@sbsheriff) September 11, 2019
Meanwhile, the USCG issued new emergency safety requirements in a bulletin to boaters.
“There is no routine, anymore” Capt. Dan Salas, CEO of Harbor Breeze Cruises, said. “There’s not a routine inspection. These inspections now have reached a point where they are deadly serious.”
The inspections are focused on firefighting systems to ensure they are working properly, a detailed process from top to bottom. The bulletin also advised boat owners to consider limiting the unsupervised charging of lithium-ion batteries and the extensive use of power strips and extension cords.
“The fact that the Coast Guard put that in the bulletin, when it’s nowhere in the regulations, I think sends a very clear signal to where this investigation is going,” Jeffrey Goodman, a maritime and mass disaster attorney, said.
There will also be a formal Marine Board investigation on what caused the fire that claimed so many lives, which Goodman said is an extremely rare move, but does not necessarily mean negligence or criminal wrongdoing was involved.
“The purpose is safety and ensuring the safe operation of vessels on our waters,” he said.
The results of the investigation could take up to a year.