We were extremely saddened to learn the tragic news that one of our nurses, Evan Quitasol, was on board the Conception. Two former long-term staff members, Michael Quitasol (Evan’s father) and Fernisa Sison, were also on board. We held a prayer gathering in our Chapel this morning to offer comfort and support to our hospital family. Our hearts go out to all the families and loved ones of those on board the Conception. Out of immense respect for the family’s privacy, we do not have any other words to share at this time.Angela was a science teacher at Sierra Middle School in Stockton. The Lincoln Unified School District released a statement later Tuesday:
With permission from her family, we are now able to confirm that one of our teachers, Angela Rose Quitasol, was on board the dive boat Conception with several other members of her family. Angela worked for us for 4 years as a Science teacher at Sierra Middle School. She is a former Lincoln Unified student, having returned to teach in her home district. For Angela, students were her focus. She shared her passion for science with them and greeted them every day with a high five and a bright smile. We are all deeply saddened by this terrible incident and hold her family, and all those affected, in our thoughts and prayers at this difficult time.Nicole Quitasol lived in San Diego. Kristy Finstad, 41, co-owner of Worldwide Diving Adventures, which chartered the boat, was identified in a Facebook post by her brother, Brett Harmeling of Houston who asked people to pray for her. Pacific Collegiate School in Santa Cruz said some of its students and their parents were on the boat. The Coast Guard called off its rescue operation Tuesday after determining there were no more survivors, Capt. Monica Rochester said. The 75-foot (23-meter) Conception was on the last day of a three-day excursion to the chain of rugged, wind-swept isles that form Channel Islands National Park in the Pacific Ocean west of Los Angeles. The fire broke out shortly after 3 a.m. Monday as the boat sat anchored in Platt’s Harbor off Santa Cruz Island. The sheriff said all 34 victims were trapped on the boat’s lower deck when flames quickly blocked both a narrow stairway and an escape hatch leading to the upper decks. “The one crew member who was not rescued appears to have been asleep in the sleeping area down below with the passengers,” Brown said. It appears the crew sent multiple mayday calls, including one from the Conception in which a crew member could be heard saying he couldn’t breathe. A later one came from the fishing vessel The Grape Escape after the crew reached it in their small boat. One of the vessel’s owners said he heard explosions as he watched the Conception go up in flames from about 100 yards away. Brown said the blasts could have been exploding scuba tanks or propane tanks. Investigators have received written accounts from the five survivors and would interview them, Brown said. The National Transportation Safety Board, which also is investigating, said they were cooperating. “I am 100 percent confident that our investigators will determine the cause of this fire, why it occurred, how it occurred and what is needed to prevent it from happening again,” NTSB member Jennifer Homendy told reporters. The Conception, based in Santa Barbara Harbor, was owned by Santa Barbara-based Truth Aquatics, founded in 1974. A memorial at the harbor has quickly grown as mourners come to pay their respects. Actor Rob Lowe tweeted that he had been aboard the vessel many times. Dave Reid, who runs an underwater camera manufacturing business with his wife, Terry Schuller, also has traveled on the Conception and two other boats in Truth Aquatics’ fleet and said he considered all three among the best and safest.
Schuller said the company’s crews have always been meticulous in going over safety instructions at the beginning of every trip she’s been on. “They tell you where the life jackets are, how to put them on … the exits, where the fire extinguishers are, on every single trip,” Schuller said. Coast Guard records show the boat’s owners quickly addressed all safety violations from the last five years.
My heart breaks for those onboard the Conception. An unspeakable horror on a boat I’ve been on many times. My prayers and thoughts are with the families.— Rob Lowe (@RobLowe) September 2, 2019