WOODLAND HILLS (CBSLA) – A Woodland Hills father who lost his son in the 2019 Conception Boat fire paid special tribute to him by spreading his ashes across the last 500 miles of a 2,600 mile journey.
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It’s been more than two years since a fire broke out on the Conception dive boat off the coast of Santa Barbara, killing 34 passengers and crew.
For Kathi and Clark McIlvain, who lost their son Charlie in one of the worst maritime disasters in recent history, the pain is still very fresh.
“It was the worst day of our lives, absolute worst day of our lives,” Kathi, Charlie’s stepmother, said.
Since the deadly fire, the couple has made it a point to honor Charlie and remember the joy, love and fun hiking trips they used to take together.
Clark said there was no better way to pay tribute to his son than to take Charlie’s ashes with him as he hiked the last 500 miles of the Pacific Coast Trail.
“I could talk to him instead of just myself and it seemed appropriate. Every night when I set up camp, I kept the ashes in the bottom of my pack. So, I’d pull them out and we’d review what did that day,” Clark said.READ MORE: Student Stabbed At Miguel Contreras Learning Complex In Westlake
The grieving father even captured cellphone video of these moments.
“We made it,” Clark can be seen saying. “You pushed me all the way and I can’t think of a better place for you.”
It was Charlie’s spirit, according to his father, that helped him finish the last 500 mile stretch, and when they did, he scattered his son’s ashes as he shared stories about Charlie with fellow hikers.
“One young man said, ‘Thank you so much for including us in this tribute,’ and I couldn’t more grateful to the group there,” Clark said.
“To me, this is the best memorial he could’ve given Charlie,” Kathi said.MORE NEWS: Manhattan Beach School Employee, Kevin Bandel, Arrested On Child Pornography Allegation
The 71-year-old started the 2,600 mile journey in 2015, hiking a portion of the trail every summer. Although he misses his son, he said there isn’t anyone else he’d rather have completed his life goal with.