Conception Captain Guilty In Deaths Of 33 Passengers And One Crew Member

Monday November 06, 2023


(Photos courtesy VCFD and SBCFD)

      A federal jury Monday has convicted the captain of the dive boat Conception in connection with the deaths of the 33 passengers and one crew member who died in a fire on the board the boat while anchored off Santa Cruz Island on Labor Day 2019.

     They found 69-year-old Jerry Boylan of Santa Barbara guilty of one count of misconduct or neglect of a ship officer, and offense commonly called "seaman's manslaughter", a crime punishable by ten years in prison.

     The jury found Boylan failed in his responsibilities in several ways including abandoning ship instead of rescuing passengers, failing to have a night watch or roving patrol, failing to conduct sufficient drills and crew training, failing to provide firefighting instructions or directions to crew members after the fire started, failing to use firefighting equipment including an ax and fire extinguisher that were next to him in the wheelhouse to fight the fire or attempt to rescue trapped passengers, failing to perform any lifesaving or firefighting activities whatsoever even though he was not injured, failing to use the boat's public address system to warn passengers and crew members about the fire, and being the first person to abandon ship even though the passengers and one crew member were still alive and trapped below.

     Boylan remains free on bond pending sentencing on February 8th.