Families Grieve Lost Loved Ones From Boat Tragedy Off Southern California Coast
Many victims who were on board the dive boat that caught fire on Labor Day have been identified by their friends and family.
Coast Guard officials confirmed that 39 people were reportedly on board the Conception while it was anchored off the coast of Santa Cruz Island when the fire broke out. They have so far recovered the bodies of 33 people, leaving only one more person unaccounted for, according to the LA Times. Five crew members were able to escape and survive by jumping overboard and paddling to a nearby vessel.
Raymond “Scott” Chan, 59-year-old high school teacher and Kendra Chan, his 26-year-old daughter were among the victims. Vicki Moore of Los Altos is now mourning the death of her husband of 35 years and her first-born child.
“Right now, it’s a combination of just shock and disbelief and some numbness,” Moore told KTVU in an interview.
Such heartbreak. A father & daughter from #LosAltos among those on board the Conception. 59 y/o Scott Chan was a teacher at American High School in #Fremont. He was with his 26 y/o daughter Kendra. Chan’s wife shared these pictures & said the two bonded over diving #ktvu 10/11p pic.twitter.com/fTYHGPpUJV
“You don’t expect to have a child that dies before you. I can barely talk about my husband, but frankly, it’s even harder when it’s your own child.”
According to Moore, the father and daughter were avid scuba divers. They had reportedly been diving together for years, taking at least two boat trips to the Channel Islands each year.
It was Friday evening when Moore saw them last. She dropped off Chan at the Santa Barbara Harbor where they also met their daughter. Moore was supposed to pick them up on Monday. The Conception had sailed for the Channel Islands in California on Saturday morning.
Moore and Chan met at Stanford. After working as an electrical engineer in Silicon Valley for 20 years, he moved on to teaching physics at American High School in Fremont and has been doing so for the past two years.
Kendra Chan, who had just turned 26, was a wildlife biologist with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Ventura.
“I was so proud, so proud of her and all that she was doing,” Moore was quoted as saying. “She was absolutely an amazing young woman.”
Moore noted that the family had been on the Conception many times before. She did not expect such a fire would occur.
“I think this was an anomaly, at least I sure hope it was,” said Moore. “I’ve never heard of this type of thing before.”
Also confirmed among the victims of the Concepcion fire were Filipino American father Michel Quitasol, his second wife Fernisa Sison and his daughters, Evan, Nicole and Angela, the New York Post reports.
Susana Solano Rosas, Quitasol’s first wife and mother to the three victims, took to Facebook to express her grief over the incident.
Michel Quitasol and his wife, Fernisa, worked at Kaiser Permanente hospitals in the Central Valley. Angela Quitasol taught seventh-grade science at Sierra Middle School, Evanmichel Quitasol, was a nurse at St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Stockton while Nicole Quitasol worked at the Nicky Rottens sports bar in Coronado. The Quitasol family members were reportedly on the boat to celebrate the father’s birthday.
A GoFundMe page has been created to help Michel and Fernisa’s loved ones.
Meanwhile, a 47-year-old Singaporean is also feared to be among the victims, The New Paper reports. Sunil Singh Sandhu, who has been living in the U.S. for over two decades now, has reportedly taken up scuba diving recently. The man’s father, Sojit Singh, 77, was devastated after learning that his son could be among the victims.
“My mind went blank. I thought this was a hoax. My whole life is gone. I can never find another boy like him,” he was quoted as saying. “I never had to worry about my son. He was a nice boy who had no bad habits. The only thing that I worried about was him not being married.”