SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The owners of Truth Aquatics, and the Conception dive boat, spoke with NewsChannel 3's Beth Farnsworth Thursday evening.
Glen and Dana Fritzler, and their daughter, Ashley, say they are beyond devastated by the Labor Day tragedy. The small, family-owned company has been in business for 45 years, is known throughout the world, and is loved in Santa Barbara.
The Fritzlers say like everyone, they are mourning the loss of 34 people, and they are desperate for answers.
"I grew up on these boats. I grew up spending time at the Sea Landing. A lot of the team is family. The crew is our family," said Ashley Fritzler. "It's a really small business, really tight-knit so, this is crushing. Crushing on so many levels that words don't suffice. And you want to apologize to the families, you want to say all these condolences but doesn't suffice right now."
Her father, Glen, said he could not discuss certain aspects of the investigation.
"The crew was located in a different part of the vessel," said Glen Fritzler, owner of Truth Aquatics. "And the flames reached up to that part, it had already engulfed down below decks and um, they had no choice but to evacuate the boat. And Captain Jerry remained on the boat as long as he possibly could, trying to get those radio calls in. The other crew, at a certain point when the flames had engulfed the boat, and they were in the water, they said they could see Jerry jump from the upper deck, a long jump, and that there was a trail of smoke following him they thought he was on fire. So, within minutes they would have been consumed. So, they did their best. They did reenter the vessel from the back of the boat after they swam around it and ... um ... they could not get to firefighting equipment because everything was engulfed. I know that, you know, we've reached out to the families and have made contact with a lot of them, and we're going to continue to try to get to everyone of 'em ... um ... the crew is having a very difficult time, you know, they're having to go through some inquiries and .. they have to recount the whole accident, and they're breaking down, they're seeking counseling but it's um ... it's a very, very tough time for 'em."
Dana Fritzler sat quietly with tears in her eyes. Farnsworth asked what is helping the family, crew and captain cope with the horrific tragedy as they mourn the massive loss of lives.
"I think the outpouring of love that they're giving us now ... and we pass it on to the crew, we pass it on to the captain, um, that's just ... that's just amazing and it really helps a lot," Dana Fritzler said. "And I think being patient with the investigation, it's hard -- everybody wants answers right now, but they just have to know that we are trying and there's a lot of people working on this to find out exactly what happened. And so, just be patient with us and with the task force."
Glen Fritzler also responded, with complete surprise, to Thursday's filing of a lawsuit on their behalf, in Los Angeles District Court.
According to the Associated Press, the lawsuit is a legal maneuver employed by owners of Titanic and countless other crafts.
"Unfortunately that's just kind of a normal cause of action in maritime law and this is ... the action that is advised to us, and we need to take."
Glen Fritzler joined the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Committee Task Force immediately following Monday's accident to help find answers to the tragedy and make sure it never happens again.
Watch the full interview here: