Santa Cruz woman ID’d as victim in Southern California dive boat fire

Bay Area

SANTA CRUZ (KRON) — Another flag is at half staff in Santa Cruz County.  

This one outside the Soquel Creek Water District where the woman known affectionately as “the water princess” had worked for the past 18 years.

Forty-two-year-old Vaidehi  “Vai” Campbell-Williams by all accounts loved water.  

She was a competitive swimmer in high school, studied the ocean in college and had an 18 year career at the Soquel Creek Water District.

“She was a life force, a big, dynamic person within our organization, probably touched more people in our organization than anyone else,” said Ron Duncan with the Soquel Creek Water District. 

Campbell-Williams was identified late Thursday as one of the 34 people who perished in a fire aboard the dive boat conception in the Channel Islands early Monday.

She died as she lived, on an adventure, reads a family statement, in part.  Always full of energy and light. a world traveler. her love of water, the ocean and sea life carried through all aspects of her life.

“She had a passion for everything, she had a passion for life, that’s one of the beautiful things about her, I don’t know that I ever saw her in a bad mood, she just came in and lit up wherever she was,” Duncan said. 

At the water district, at schools and at the state capitol, vai was known as “the water princess,” often appearing in some kind of water-related costume to dramatize her message.

“Her specialty was education, especially k through high school and that’s what she will be remembered for, her effort to educate thousands and thousands of young minds about water,” Duncan said. 

Campbell-Williams is survived by her husband of 25 years, two children and an extended family who recall her as a resounding echo of light and joy with an enthusiasm for life, work, adventure and water.

“She was a trusted colleague and a true friend to so many people in the organization,” Duncan said. “We’re going to miss her, our hearts go out to her family and so many letters of gratitude are coming in with expressions of love for her and to the entire community because there were several people involved with this tragic accident.”

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