LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — The captain of the P/V Conception, a dive boat that caught fire last year off the coast of Santa Barbara, was indicted Tuesday by a federal grand jury on 34 counts of seaman’s manslaughter.
According to the indictment, 67-year-old Jerry Nehl Boylan, of Santa Barbara, “was responsible for the safety and the security of the vessel, its crew and its passengers,” as the captain and master of the vessel.READ MORE: Three Teenagers Critically Wounded At Halloween House Party In Whittier
The indictment alleges that Boylan caused the deaths of 33 passengers and one crew member “by his misconduct, negligence and inattention to his duties.”
Prosecutors alleged Boylan failed to have a night watch or roving patrol, conduct fire drills and conduct sufficient crew training — all of which are required by the Code of Federal Regulations.READ MORE: Suspect Arrested In Death Of Man At Newport Pier
“This tragedy forever altered the lives of so many families and loved ones, and it deeply affected members of the public who watched in horror. We continue to grieve with them,” Kristi K. Johnson, the Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office, said. “Our hope is that this indictment leads to the prevention of boating accidents and the senseless destruction of lives through proper precautions and training.”
The Conception, a 75-foot vessel, was anchored in Platt’s Harbor near Santa Cruz Island Sep. 2, 2019 when a fire broke out. The fire, which engulfed the boat and led to its sinking, resulted in the deaths of 34 people who had been sleeping below deck. Five crew members, including Boylan, were able to escape and survived.
“As a result of the alleged failures of Captain Boylan to follow well-established safety rules, a pleasant holiday dive trip turned into a hellish nightmare as passengers and one crew member found themselves trapped in a fiery bunkroom with no means of escape,” United States Attorney Nick Hanna said. “The loss of life that day will forever impact the families of the 34 victims. With this indictment and our commitment to vigorously prosecute the case, we seek a small measure of justice for the victims and their loved ones.”MORE NEWS: Fullerton Police Say They Recovered Loaded Stolen Handgun, Nitrous Oxide
Boylan is expected to self-surrender in the coming weeks. Each charge of seaman’s manslaughter carries a statutory maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison.