Santa Barbara- S County

Full investigation onshore and offshore of Conception disaster doesn't surprise legal experts

Photos, measurements, and visual analysis underway

The salvage vessel DB Salta Verde is working to retrieve the dive boat Conception from the ocean floor off Santa Cruz Island. (US Coast Guard photo)

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Efforts to recover the last of 34 bodies from the sunken Conception boat disaster a week ago have resumed after weather dealt first responders a set back earlier this week.

Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown told the Board of Supervisors in a debriefing that salvage operations to raise the Conception were taking place Tuesday.

It is not known when the vessel will be brought to the surface, but sources familiar with the work offshore say it will likely be this week.

From there the boat will be protected from the elements and transported to a secure onshore site for a detailed examination to determine the cause of the deadly fire.

The 185-foot salvage vessel DB Salta Verde owned by Curtin Maritime is above the wreckage just off the coast of Santa Cruz Island about 20 miles from the Santa Barbara County coast where the fire took place

Some of the dive teams involved are now operating out of the Channel Islands Harbor in addition to the Santa Barbara waterfront.

This is where the National Park Service headquarters for the islands is located.

One of the two FBI dive team boats remains docked in Santa Barbara. 

Some command operations set up at the harbor near Sea Landing in Santa Barbara have been scaled back. The Governor's Office of Emergency Services trailer has been removed along with a large Department of Justice truck.

This week, investigators have been going through Truth Aquatics vessels -- the company owns the Conception along with the Truth and Vision boats.

Some specific measurements, photos and personal inspections are taking place on the vessels and they are going over documents that have just been obtained.

"They are going to leave no stone unturned because it is a huge tragedy," said legal analyst Dana Cole.

"I think because it is such a tragedy and there is such a loss of life here that law enforcement was concerned that evidence might disappear, whether it is safety procedures, internal memos, emails back and forth. They want to gather all this evidence to see if there's responsible parties if there was some knowledge or disregard for standard safety procedures, and they want to collect this evidence before it goes south," Cole said.

The owner of the Conception Dana Fritzler has also secured a legal team.

There's been no determination of the fire's cause, or any criminal wrongdoing.

A preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board is expected within the next week.


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