‘It hurts, it will always hurt, but we will move on . . .’
Recent college graduates. Ocean aficionados. A company CEO. Technology czars. Artists and educational stewards.
The victims of the Conception dive boat tragedy came from many different backgrounds, but all shared the common bond of seeking out adventure whenever possible. As authorities continue working to identify all of those involved and notify their friends and families, here is what we know about some of those who were lost.
Wei Tan, 26, had earned her masters degree in engineering from Cal earlier this year, and received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan in 2015, according to her LinkedIn profile.
Her sister, Cheerin Tan, announced her death on Facebook, writing “At the moment, my family is coping well while we wait for DNA testing to be completed.
“It hurts, it will always hurt, but we will move on…” she wrote.
The city of Goleta posted a message to twitter and wrote that Ms. Tan loved diving.
“Goleta is mourning the loss,” officials wrote. “We send love to her family & friends.”
Ms. Tan was a data scientist for Evidation Health in Santa Barbara, who company co-founder Alessio Signorini referred to as a “dear colleague.”
Christine Lemke, co-founder and president of the company, issued the following statement to the News-Press: “We recently learned of the tragic death of one of our employees, Wei Tan. Our hearts are broken. Her smile lit up the world, and she’ll be sorely missed.”
Ms. Tan will be included in the Berkeley campus memorial, scheduled for Tuesday afternoon.
Alexandra “Allie” Kurtz, 26, of Santa Barbara, was the lone crew member who perished in the tragedy. She had given up a job in the movie industry to follow her love of boating and scuba diving.
“Though Allie is not here physically with us, she is here spiritually among us all,” wrote Rob Kurtz, her father, on a GoFundMe page. “She is being the pirate she wanted to be and sailing around the world and swimming with the sea life she loved so much.
“The last couple days have been filled with so many emotions and feelings that is hard to believe this is not a bad dream” he wrote, adding that Truth Aquatics, which owned and operated the vessel, was like “Allie’s second home.”
Her 20-year-old sister, Olivia, told The Associated Press that Allie had long wanted to work on the vessel.
“She wanted to go on the Conception so bad,” her 20-year-old sister Olivia Kurtz said. “She wanted to work that boat, and she was finally able to work that boat. She left this world doing something she absolutely loved. This was her dream, and she was finally able to fulfill this dream.
A total of 177 donors have raised $16,400 to support the Kurtz family. The goal had been $2,000.
Mrs. Kurtz had worked for a time in movie promotions at Paramount and was living in Santa Monica. She moved to Santa Barbara earlier this year to head out on the water, according to her family.
Ms. Kurtz obtained an Australian work visa with the idea of traveling there to work. After she got the Visa, she texted her grandmother and told her she had finally achieved her dream “of being a pirate.”
India resident Sunil Singh Sandhu, 46, was also among the victims, his parents told media outlets. Mr. Sandu had been living in the United States for at least 20 years, though both he and Ms. Tan were reportedly born in Singapore.
Mr. Sandhu’s father, Sojit, said his son earned both a masters and doctoral degree from Stanford and was working as a research scientist.
“My mind went blank,” his father told news outlet The New Paper. “I thought this was a hoax. My whole life is gone. I can never find another boy like him.
“I never had to worry about my son. He was a nice boy who had no bad habits.”
Mr. Sandhu’s identity has yet to be confirmed by the sheriff’s Coroner’s Bureau.
Justin Dignam, 58, of Anaheim, was the founder and CEO of Big Fish Employer Services, a payroll company with ties to water polo programs around the country.
On Tuesday, Jeff Hill, the company’s president, told clients in an email that Mr. Dignam, a father of two from Anaheim Hills, was on the vessel when it sank.
“We are honoring Justin with our actions by continuing to run the business that he built with honor and commitment,” Mr. Hill wrote. “With dedication in the face of any adversity, we will carry on as the capable team that Justin relied upon, just as he would expect.”
Among the clients of the company was Team USA Water Polo. Mr. Dignam played water polo at the University of Richmond, then coached at Iona College and Wesleyan University.
Yulia Krashenneya and Daniel Garcia, a couple from Berkeley, were identified Friday morning by authorities.
Ms. Krashenneya, 40, was a product manager for Cisco Global Event Marketing and worked in technology data and analytics at SpiraLinks, according to her LinkedIn page. Mr. Garcia, 46, worked for Apple. He is remembered by friends for being a deeply caring friend, brilliant co-worker, and LED wizard, according to media reports.
Ms. Krashenneya was part of Berkeley’s “Buy Nothing” group, which encourages people to give away things they don’t need or offer services to people. She was known to offer thoughtful gifts and was considered and happy to help her fellow neighbors.
“She was certainly a great member, very thoughtful, very welcoming, very active, very kind in her interactions, and she will certainly be missed,” a group administrator said.
Carolina McLaughin, 35, of Oakland, was also aboard the 75-foot commercial diving boat Monday. She graduated from Palo Alto High School in 2001 and obtained her bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Computing in the Arts from UC San Diego in 2005, according to her Facebook page.
She was a senior software engineer at Brilliant.org, a website that offers math, science and engineering courses. She was also a watercolor artists who shared her works through the website carrielicious.com, according to a report by Palo Alto online.
Memphis pathologist Ted Strom, 62, of Germantown, Tennessee, was an associate professor at the University of Tennessee Health and Science Center and had worked at the VA Medical Center in Memphis as a staff physician for the past 10 years.
“His exceptional service to Veterans as a staff physician is a testament to the type of person that he was,” the VA in Memphis said in a statement to The Daily Memphian. “Our thoughts and prayers remain with his family during this time. He will certainly be missed.“
The Strom family released a statement through a public relations firm that read, in part: “The Strom family wants everyone to know that he passed in a place he cherished while doing something he loved. During this very difficult time, the family requests complete privacy.”
Dr. Strom also held a research fellowship at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, according to his LinkedIn profile.
Valdehi Campbell, 41, died just two days before her 42nd birthday, according to a message from her family.
“Always full of energy and light, Valdehi was a world traveler who had dear friends on every piece of the globe she touched,” the family wrote. “Her love of water, the ocean and sea life carried through all aspects of her life.”
She grew up in Santa Cruz and attended Scripps College, which included a semester studying the water Systems in Madagascar. She worked for the Soquel Creek Water District for the past 18 years.
“She was a vivacious, giving, and present friend, known throughout the community as a leader, environmental advocate and teacher, and wonderful wife, mother, daughter, friend, and sister,” her family shared on the water district’s website.
She married her high school sweetheart, Sarma Williams and the couple had been together for 25 years.
Ms. Williams was known to spread her knowledge and passion for water with folks at education and special events.
“Val brought immense joy to work every day and was a dear friend to all of us at the District… May we always remember her infectious smile, kind heart, vast knowledge and adventurous spirit,” wrote Melanie Mow Schumacher, district spokeswoman. “Val will forever be our ‘Water Princess.’”
Sacramento residents Andrew Fritz, 40, and his wife, Adrian Dahood-Fritz, were also on the boat. The couple had moved to Sacramento 15 months ago and previously lived in Texas. Both were avid photographers and enjoyed volunteering with animals. Mr. Fritz was a photography teacher and Ms. Dahood-Fritz was a research scientist who made annual trips to Antarctica.
Ms. Dahood-Fritz had not been identified by local authorities as of Saturday.
“We are saddened to learn that Adrian Dahood-Fritz, who worked for the Ocean Protection Council under the California Natural Resources Agency since April as a senior environmental scientist, and her husband Andrew Fritz, were aboard the boat and are presumed dead,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a statement. “Adrian led the state’s efforts to manage California’s network of marine protected areas, and she cared deeply about the ocean and biodiversity. She embodied marine conservation and was a highly accomplished and respected scientific researcher. Adrian’s passion and energy will be greatly missed.”
Carrie McLaughlin and Kristian Takvam both worked for San Francisco-based Brilliant, a website that creates interactive science, technology, engineering and mathematics courses. Ms. McLaughlin was a senior software engineer. Mr. Takvam, whose identity has not been released by authorities as of Saturday, was vice president of engineering.
“The loss of Carrie and Kristian is deeply heartbreaking for all of us at Brilliant,” Sue Khim, company CEO, said in a statement. “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.”
The identities of the remaining 11 victims who have been recovered are expected to be released early this week, according to authorities.
Others who have been identified by the sheriff’s Coroner’s Bureau include: Raymond “Scott” Chan, 59, of Los Altos; Kendra Chan, 26, of Oxnard; Marybeth Guiney, 51, of Santa Monica; Angela Rose Quitasol, 28 and Evan Michel Quitasol, 37, both of Stockton; Nicole Storm Quitasol, 31, of Imperial Beach; Michael Quitasol, 62, of Stockton; Charles McIlvain, 44, of Santa Monica; Steven Salika, 55, and Tia Salika-Adamic, 17, both of Santa Cruz; Carol Diana Adamic, 60, of Santa Cruz; Neal Gustav Baltz, 42, of Phoenix, AZ; and Patricia Ann Beitzinger, 48, of Chandler, AZ.