The Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office will help victims of the Conception dive boat fire with funeral costs, applications for compensation and obtaining referrals to other agencies or counseling providers.
According to a Monday news release from the DA’s Office, the DA’s Victim Witness Program was selected by the California Victim Compensation Board, a state program that provides reimbursement for crime-related expenses to eligible victims.
The board was created in 1965 and is run by the California Government Operations Agency.
“From day one our office has been engaged in this endeavor,” District Attorney Joyce Dudley said in a statement. “From the early morning hours of September 3, 2019 our office’s focus has been on the fire victims and their loved ones. If there are any members of victims’ families that have not already contacted us, please do so by calling (805) 568-2400 or toll free (855) 840-3242.”
She added that the Santa Barbara Police Foundation has created a program that provides “carefully vetted, confidential, cost-free counseling,” for first responders. To reach the “At Ease” program operators, call (844) 727-3911.
“The remaining criminal investigation will continue to be primarily conducted by multiple Federal Agencies reporting exclusively to the United States Attorney’s Office. The Federal Government alone has the necessary resources to do a comprehensive investigation, while our local agencies, including your District Attorney’s Office, will instead continue to respond to, and focus on, our local communities,” Ms. Dudley said.
Around 3:14 a.m. on Sept. 2, the U.S. Coast Guard Sector Los Angeles/Long Beach received a distress call from the Conception, a 75-foot commercial diving vessel. There were 39 people on board, including six crew members and 33 passengers.
The vessel was on a three-day diving trip to the Channel Islands when, on the last night of the voyage, the vessel caught fire while anchored in Platts Harbor off Santa Cruz Island. Thirty-three passengers and one crew member died.
The Conception is owned by Santa Barbara-based Truth Aquatics.