Many people throughout the Bay area own boats that allow them easy access to ocean activities and other bodies of water throughout the region. For those that do not, there are numerous charter boat options offering fishing, diving, and pleasure cruising excursions. Unfortunately, a recent boat fire off the coast of Santa Barbara that claimed the lives of several local residents has cast doubt on the safety of these trips. Wrongful death claims could be filed against the charter boat company on behalf of the victim’s families, due to a lack of safety precautions onboard the vessel.
CA Dive Boat Fire Claims Lives of 34 People
A fire that happened on board a scuba diving boat claimed the lives of 34 people over the recent Labor Day weekend. The fire broke out early Labor Day morning, as the vessel was anchored off Santa Cruz Island. The charter originated in Santa Barbara but the majority of people on board were from San Jose and the surrounding Bay Area.
Early reports indicate that the scuba divers were downstairs sleeping when the fire broke out while the boat crew was mainly above deck. Flames quickly raced throughout the below deck cabins, allowing passengers little to no time for escape. While most of the crew survived the blaze by jumping overboard, nearly all of those trapped below went down with the ship.
The trip was part of a three-day excursion around the Channel Islands National Park. While the company that owned the vessel had some safety violations that were uncovered during inspections over the past five years, most were addressed immediately and did not threaten the company’s boat license or their ability to offer public charters.
Charter Boat Safety
During the time salvage operations were being conducted, investigations were already pointing to ways safety onboard charter vessels could be improved. While authorities are still trying to determine the cause of the blaze, there is no doubt that having only one way in or out of the below deck cabins contributed to the high death toll.
Public and private charters are all subject to strict rules and regulations by both the California Department of Parks and the U.S. Coast Guard. However, this recent tragedy points out the need to take nothing for granted. Before a boat trip, take the following precautions:
- Checking the qualifications of the captain and onboard staff
- Checking the vessel’s prior safety records
- Making sure there are adequate life jackets and lifeboats, in the event of an emergency
- Locating all emergency exits and fire extinguishers
Contact Our San Jose Attorneys Today for Help
When a loved one is killed or suffers severe injuries in an accident, the situation is made worse by knowing that it could have been prevented. The Jachimowicz Law Group represents victims and their family members in these situations. For a free consultation, call our office or contact our skilled San Jose accident attorneys online today.