California boat fire: 17 victims from Bay Area


SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) – Students from a high school in Santa Cruz, a Fremont science teacher and his daughter, an adventurous marine biologist who worked in Santa Cruz, and a family of five from Stockton celebrating a birthday are among those presumed to have died when fire tore through a scuba diving boat off the Southern California coast, trapping dozens of sleeping people below deck.

Authorities on Tuesday ended the search for survivors of Monday’s pre-dawn fire aboard the Conception.

It was presumed that 34 people were dead.

Authorities say they have recovered the bodies of 33 people who died in the boat fire.

One remains missing.

Some may be inside the sunken boat.

Most of the victims will need to be identified by DNA analysis with samples from families. 

Here are the victims of the deadly Southern California boat fire:

Carrie McLaughlin and Kristian Takvam

Carrie McLaughlin and Kristian Takvam

Carrie McLaughlin and Kristian Takvam were both employees at Brilliant in San Francisco.

The two were said to be traveling on the boat for the holiday weekend.

The company released a statement:

“The loss of Carrie and Kristian is deeply heartbreaking for all of us at Brilliant. Carrie and Kristian were incredible friends and colleagues who brought immense passion, talent, leadership, and warmth, and they will be missed dearly. Our hearts are with their families and friends.”

Sue Khim, CEO of Brilliant

McLaughlin was a Senior Software Engineer with the company, and Takvam was the Vice President of Engineering.

Lisa Fiedler

Lisa Fiedler

Tributes are pouring in from friends and family of Lisa Fiedler from Mill Valley.

“RIP my dear, sweet, Beautiful, life-loving, Adventurous Friend….Lisa Lisa Fiedler! A life cut way too short on board the Diving Boat “Conception “. You lived life to the Fullest and you BRIGHTENED every life you touched. I am so BLESSED to have had you as a friend and to especially have had you to share many of life’s incredible journeys with. We shall meet again someday, my Beautiful Friend, to share the Greatest Journey of them ALL,” said one tribute from friend Donna Hammond Brown.

“My childhood friend perished in the Santa Barbara scuba boat tragedy. Unbelievable. So many good memories at the house in Michigan. Rest In Peace Lisa Fiedler. 😢,” another comment read from Nancy Lampa.

Steve Salika, Dianna Adamic, Tia Salika, and Berenice Felipe

Left to Right: Steve Salika, Tia Salika, Diana Adamic

Apple has confirmed that employee Steve Salika is among the victims in the boat crash.

In a statement to KRON4, Deirdre O’Brien, senior vice president Retail + People, called Salika a “30-year Apple veteran whose energy and enthusiasm touched so many people across our company throughout his career.”

According to the statement, Steve also met his wife Diana Adamic at Apple and who was also aboard the boat, along with their daughter, Tia Salika, and her friend Berenice Felipe.

Melanie Sobel, the general manager with the Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter, says Diana was a volunteer and contract Humane Educator.

Tia and Berenice also worked closely with the shelter.

Dan Garcia and Yulia Krashennaya

Yulia Krashennaya and Dan Garcia

Apple has also confirmed another employee, Dan Garcia, is among the victims.

In a statement to KRON4, Deirdre O’Brien, senior vice president Retail + People, called him “as passionate about his job at Apple as he was about his love of diving.”

Rakesh Bharania, who knew Dan, posted on Facebook confirming the loss of Dan, Yulia Krashennaya and Carrie McLaughlin.

“Sadly, it has been confirmed that Dan Garcia, Yulia Krashennaya and Carrie McLaughlin were aboard the Conception. While I didn’t know Yulia or Carrie, I am thankful that Dan did.”

Kristina Finstad

Kristy Finstad

Also below decks was Kristy Finstad, a marine biologist and co-owner of Worldwide Diving Adventures in Santa Cruz, which chartered the boat. Finstad was leading the scuba tour.

Finstad knew the area well, having done hundreds of dives in the Channel Islands, where she first swam with her father as a toddler. She first dove with a tank off Mexico at age 9, according to her company’s website.

Finstad was described by her brother, Brett Harmeling of Houston, as strong-willed and adventurous.

“If there was a one percent chance of her making it, she would have made it,” he told the Los Angeles Times.

Finstad studied damselfish and corals in the Tahitian Islands, dove for black pearls in the French Polynesian Tuamotus Islands and counted salmonids for the city of Santa Cruz, where she lived.

She also did research for the Australian Institute of Marine Science and wrote a restoration guidebook for the California Coastal Commission.

“My mission is to inspire appreciation for our underwater world,” she wrote on her company’s website.

She and her husband had just returned from sailing across the South Pacific.

Michael Quitasol, Fernisa Sison, Evan Quitasol, Nicole Quitasol, Angela Rose Quitasol

Left to right: Evan Quitasol, Angela Quitasol, Michael Quitasol, Fernisa Sison, Nicole Quitasol

A broken-hearted mother posted on her Facebook page Tuesday that her three daughters, their father and his wife were among those presumed dead.

Susana Rosas of Stockton posted that her three daughters — Evan, Nicole and Angela Quitasol — were with their father Michael Quitasol and stepmother Fernisa Sison.

Evan Quitasol was a nurse at St. Joseph’s Medical Center of Stockton, where her father and Sison had worked after attending nursing school at San Joaquin Delta College.

Sison also worked at the college teaching first-year nursing students full-time in 2005 and 2006 and later as an adjunct instructor, according to the school’s spokesman, Alex Breitler.

“Everybody’s devastated. It’s a totally unexpected thing that happened,” said Dominic Selga, Sison’s ex-husband. “What caused the fire, that’s the big question, that’s what we all want to know.”

Rosas’ husband, Chris, told the Los Angeles Times that Nicole Quitasol worked as a bartender in Coronado near San Diego and her sister, Angela, was a science teacher at a middle school in Stockton.

The sisters were on the trip to celebrate their dad’s birthday, Chris Rosas said. He described them as “the most kind, most loving people I’ve ever met — and I’m not just saying that because they’re family.”

Nicole worked for a Coronado restaurant called Nicky Rottens. A

GoFundMe page the restaurant started to help the family described Nicole as “an adventurous & loving soul.”

Scott and Kendra Chan

Scott Chan and Kendra Chan

Scott Chan, a physics teacher at American High School in Fremont, also was on board with his daughter, said Brian Killgore, a spokesman for the Fremont Unified School District.

The district said in a statement that Chan taught Advance Placement physics classes for the past three years at the school and was well-liked.

“His students knew him to be an innovative and inspiring teacher who developed a passion for physics among his students,” the district said in a statement. “His loss is a tremendous tragedy for our school district.”

Chan said on his LinkedIn page that his teaching was fed by his “passion and wealth of real-world experience from research laboratories, and the electronics, computer, and high-performance automotive industries.”

Pacific Collegiate Charter School students, parents

Among those on board were some students from Pacific Collegiate School in Santa Cruz, a public charter school for grades 7 through 12, the school said.

The school released the following statement in response to the tragedy:

“Our hearts and prayers are with the families of the victims and those yet missing, particularly those of our students. Right now, our priority as a school community is to support our students, staff, and families. Please respect our need to gather and grieve privately.”

None of the students or parents have been publicly identified.

The school would not confirm reports that along with the two students, there were two Pacific Collegiate parents on the boat.

Alexandra Kurtz

Allie Kurtz

A framed photo at a memorial in Santa Barabara has the message ‘I love you Allie,’ written on it.

The victims’ mother spoke to KTLA and has identified her as 25-year-old Alexandra Kurtz.

Kurtz’s mother said she came to California to follow her dreams and had been working at Paramount Pictures.

Patricia Beitzinger and Neal Baltz

KNXV-TV in Phoenix reported that an Arizona couple, Patricia Beitzinger and Neal Baltz, were also on the trip.

“They went to heaven doing something they loved together,” Neal’s father, John Baltz, told the station.

This story will be updated with new information as it develops.

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