May 2, 2024 - Business

Captain sentenced over deadliest maritime disaster in recent U.S. history

Members of the FBI dive team view a growing memorial in Santa Barbara Harbor for 34 victims of the Conception boat tragedy September 5, 2019 in Santa Barbara, California.

FBI dive team members view a memorial in Santa Barbara Harbor for 34 victims of the Conception boat tragedy in September 2019 in Santa Barbara, California. Photo: Al Seib/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

The captain of a scuba dive boat that caught fire and killed 34 people off California's coast in 2019 was sentenced to 48 months in federal prison on Thursday.

The big picture: Jerry Nehl Boylan was found guilty last November of one count of misconduct or neglect of ship officer over the deadliest maritime disaster in recent U.S. history over the federal offense that's colloquially referred to as "seaman's manslaughter."

Zoom in: The Conception was carrying 33 passengers and six crew members when it caught fire and sank near Santa Cruz Island on Labor Day in 2019.

  • Boylan's attorneys blamed boat owner Glen Fritzler, but the 70-year-old from Santa Barbara was the only person charged in the case.

What they're saying: "While today's sentence cannot fully heal their wounds, we hope that our efforts to hold this defendant criminally accountable brings some measure of healing to the families," said U.S. Attorney Martin Estrada in a statement announcing Boylan's sentencing.

What's next: Several lawsuits will proceed now the criminal case has concluded, including a wrongful death suit filed by the victims' families against the U.S. Coast Guard.

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