Fire

Victim help from District Attorney's Office underway after Conception tragedy

Federal officials also take over cause study

Conception victims receiving help from Santa Barbara County District Attorney's office.

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - On the scene when the Conception dive boat tragedy unfolded September 2,  Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce Dudley was organizing efforts from her office to help victims and their families.

The magnitude of the disaster was unknown but the need was apparent then and more so now.

Dudley also says the California Victims Compensation Board has named the Santa Barbara County District Attorney's Victim Witness Program as the agency that will help victims of the fire.

That means the D.A.'s office will assist with funding referrals for funeral costs, applications for certain compensation and direct victims to agencies that could be helpful such as those with counseling programs.
The District Attorney says helping those impacted by this and other  tragedies is a top priority for her office.

Dudley says, "and now it is a matter of filling out forms so they can be compensated for funeral expenses counseling whatever the immediate need is.  We have also helped several of them with their hotels, food and vouchers and transportation. When they come to  us they are in a state of shock and we want to do whatever we can to address their needs."

She says the mass fatality case is now in the hands of the federal government because of the ability of the agencies such as the Department of Justice, National Transportation Safety Board and the U.S. Coast Guard to find out why the fire started,  if it could have been prevented and if criminal or maritime laws were broken.

"I agreed that he would continue to have sole jurisdiction in terms any investigation and potential prosecution. I am convinced they are in the best position to get the  most just prosecution if there is one," said Dudley.

The assistance goes beyond the victims families, and also includes first responders who have been impacted. They can seek help through a cost-free and confidential program called "At Ease."

"The divers who were out there, the Coast Guard, firefighters, law enforcement personnel,  because of the traumatic event, because they have had one traumatic event after another in our county  they are getting the  help that they need," said Dudley.

At the Santa Barbara waterfront, the memorial created by community members and those close to the victims remains along the walkway by  the SeaLanding dock.

 It consists of flowers, pictures, candles, balloons,  and personalized notes.    

Many people from around the world have come there to reflect on the losses in the last two weeks.

The memorial will remain at the site  for an undetermined time.

The area is being maintained by the harbor staff daily for pedestrian safety.


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