Santa Cruz woman identified as victim of dive boat fire


SANTA CRUZ (KRON) — A Santa Cruz woman was identified Thursday as a victim of the Southern California dive boat fire.

“We’re devastated by the loss of Vaidehi Campbell, who’s been with us here for 18 years,” the Soquel Creek Water District said on their website.

Authorities say 34 people died when a fire broke on a dive boat Monday off the coast of Santa Barbara, near the Santa Cruz Islands. Divers have recovered all but one body.

Authorities ended the search Tuesday for survivors of the fire aboard the Conception.

Vai Campbell (Photo: Soquel Creek Water District)

“Vai was a very special person, a valued member of our Soquel Creek Water District family, and a beautiful, kind soul,” the website said. “Vai brought immense joy to work every day and was a dear friend to all of us at the District, and she became friends with many in the community whom she served so well. May we always remember her infectious smile, kind heart, vast knowledge, and adventurous spirit. Vai will forever be our ‘Water Princess.'”

Another victims include 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.

All those lost in the Labor Day tragedy were sleeping below deck when fire broke out around 3 a.m. The captain and four crew members above deck survived.

Authorities are investigating potential ignition sources of the deadly fire on the scuba diving boat, including electronics aboard the vessel.

Jennifer Homendy, a member of the National Transportation Safety Board, said Thursday that investigators know photography equipment, batteries and other electronics were stored and plugged in on the Conception.

She said officials are not ruling out any possibilities as they probe what caused the blaze.


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