The FBI, ATF and NTSB have all announced investigations into the dive tragedy that resulted in the loss of life of 34 people, where 5 of the 6 crew survived and everyone else perished in the fire.
According to MSN, Monday at 3:00am, 5 crew members of the Conception abandoned ship. Purportedly, they lept from the front of the boat, swam to the back, lowered the dinghy (the fire fighting equipment was several feet from this location) and fled to a ship 200 yards away, despite being 20 yards from shore.
At 3:18am, they made a radio distress call from the Grape Escape, resulting in the arrival of the Coast Guard at 3:30am. The audio of the radio call is available.
Whenever a tragedy occurs within the dive community, I usually check Scuba Board's Accidents and Incidents forum: https://www.scubaboard.com/community/forums/accidents-and-incidents.286/
It was immediately noticeable that many people were saying they would dive again with Truth Aquatics after 34 people burned to death on the ship. Eerily similar canned responses began showing up in comments sections of the LA Times, Facebook, Instagram and everywhere I looked. Crazy reasons were appearing for victim blaming. The owner of Truth Aquatics and his family said they would not sue anyone in such an incident, while simultaneously filing (in a venue shopping type of manner) a pleading in LA to request an old maritime law be used to limit the liability of their company from the deaths.
One of the reasons listed in the petition is because no one has sued yet... even though the bodies have not all been identified. They are already trying to invoke the doctrine of laches and it is immoral and legally inappropriate; unethical. But victims families are making statements like "I don't blame the company" and, as someone who has experience in scuba diving, firefighting and the legal world, I feel uniquely qualified to spot that these correlated statements are truly bizarre; to the extent that it seems clear there is a coordinated effort to shill for Truth Aquatics.
Is this the head of PR and Astroturfing for Dive Boat Disaster?
She is career PR stooge for law firms who hails from SDSU.
Let me explain my point of view.
Everyone died. Anyone who says we shouldn't "jump to conclusions" is an idiot. We don't have to jump to any conclusions. This is an unprecedented loss of life in a community of people who are hyper conscious about safety. The rightful conclusion is that everyone burned to death.
Why in the world are there people all over social media talking about how they signed waivers and acting like it is their fault because they knew the risks? Who would make such an argument? Perhaps the law firm that filed in Los Angeles court on behalf of Truth Aquatics (despite Santa Barbara County jurisdiction) has a PR arm? Indeed, they do, and it is lead by Heather Shearer.
There were two exits; the stairs and an emergency hatch. Both opened into the galley. Ergo, a fire in the galley (the second most likely place for a boat fire) would eliminate all egress in an emergency. There was no escape. Furthermore, the hatch was immediately over a three tier bunk, where 30 people would literally have to climb over the first person most likely to die of smoke inhalation in order to escape.
There should have been a ladder, instead of three bunks, beneath the escape hatch.
There was an automatic fire suppression system in the engine room. Apparently, useless for the type of fire that broke out.
There were purportedly smoke detectors, but they were clearly insufficient.
Firefighting equipment was not accessible, purportedly being due to engulfed in flames, though there was one hose at the front and back of the boat where both hoses were of sufficient length to reach the entire boat.
Many regulations have been cited and Coast Guard inspections have been cited but that does not mean regulations surpass common sense. The astroturfers are quick to point out the Coast Guard inspections, but anyone who saw that a galley fire doomed everyone should see why that is irrelevant.
The shill response is focused on hypotheticals in order to circumvent the reality of the death toll and prevent any of the victims' families from getting justice. Whole families burned to death. There is no need for hypotheticals, at this stage.
The ship's history includes some interesting tidbits, which may or may not be relevant.
First, the captain once had to be alerted by passengers (because he was asleep) that the boat was drifting to shore. This makes me question who was on watch, if anyone, during the fire, as that is standard operating procedure for boats with this many people on it.
Second, the boat was once stolen, was MIA for several hours (enough time to unload?) and the homeless person who stole it (and sunk another ship by ramming it, in the process) beached the boat on an Air Force base and miraculously escaped.
Third, crew on the ship have been known to retrieve lobster traps from below standard dive depth over artificial reefs made of broken porcelain (sinks and toilets). This is a skill particular of divers who are also smugglers.
Given a lot of these facts, the response across social media has been so correlated against common sense, I would suggest that this is evidence of a PR cover up and that this is one of many examples of such behavior that is more public than usual because the players involved have scrambled to the extent that they have revealed themselves.