California Dive Boat Captain Charged With Manslaughter in 2019 Fire That Killed 34  | Inside Edition

California Dive Boat Captain Charged With Manslaughter in 2019 Fire That Killed 34 

Authorities at the time said the flames blocked an escape hatch and stairwell to the area where passengers were sleeping.

A California dive boat captain has been charged with manslaughter following a September 2019 fire that killed 34 people, CBS News reports. Jerry Nehl Boylan, 67, the captain of the M/V Conception, was indicted Tuesday by a federal grand jury on 34 counts of seaman's manslaughter, according to CBS Los Angeles.

Nehl Boylan "was responsible for the safety and the security of the vessel, its crew and its passengers," as the captain and master of the vessel, according to the indictment.

The indictment alleges that Boylan caused the deaths of 33 passengers and one crew member "by his misconduct, negligence and inattention to his duties."

"This tragedy forever altered the lives of so many families and loved ones, and it deeply affected members of the public who watched in horror. We continue to grieve with them," said Kristi K. Johnson, the assistant director in charge of the FBI's Los Angeles field office. "Our hope is that this indictment leads to the prevention of boating accidents and the senseless destruction of lives through proper precautions and training."

The Conception, a 75-foot dive boat, was anchored in Platt's Harbor near Santa Cruz Island, which is south of Santa Barbara and west of Los Angeles. when the inferno occurred and engulfed the ship, killing 34 people on board.

Authorities at the time said the flames blocked an escape hatch and stairwell to the area where passengers were sleeping.

Five crew members, including Boylan, were able to escape and survived.

"As a result of the alleged failures of Captain Boylan to follow well-established safety rules, a pleasant holiday dive trip turned into a hellish nightmare as passengers and one crew member found themselves trapped in a fiery bunkroom with no means of escape," U.S. Attorney Nick Hanna said. "The loss of life that day will forever impact the families of the 34 victims. With this indictment and our commitment to vigorously prosecute the case, we seek a small measure of justice for the victims and their loved ones."

Boylan is expected to self-surrender in the coming weeks. Each charge of seaman's manslaughter carries a statutory maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison, authorities said.

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