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Californian Boat Captain Sentenced To Four Years Over Maritime Disaster That Killed 34

Californian scuba dive boat captain Jerry Boylan was sentenced to 4 years in prison along with 3 years under observation on Thursday. The convicted boatman escaped safely from his boat that caught fire without partaking in any firefighting activities, causing the deaths of 33 passengers onboard as well as one crew member.

The Conception was a scuba dive boat that was anchored off Santa Cruz Island south of Santa Barbara on September 2, 2019. It was the last day of a three-day excursion, and all 33 passengers were sleeping under the deck. Soon, fire from an undetected source spread across the boat.

But the captain of the boat, Mr. Boylan, along with 4 other crew members, decided to get off the boat and save themselves without taking any firefighting or lifesaving measures for the victims.

Mr. Boylan was convicted of one count of “seaman’s slaughter,” a law that makes ship officers responsible for maritime disasters. During a 2020 trial, the jury charged Boylan with 34 counts of “seaman’s slaughter,” which meant prison time for at least 340 years. However, defense attorneys urged that Boylan didn’t commit 34 separate crimes; it was, in fact, one incident, reducing the counts to only one.

U.S. attorney Martin Estrada called Boylan a “coward” and said the defendant’s negligence in training his crew with firefighting skills or performing night patrols took the lives of 34 people.

On Thursday, during the final hearing of the trial, the defense lawyers said, “While the loss of life here is staggering, there can be no dispute that Mr Boylan did not intend for anyone to die. Indeed, Mr. Boylan lives with significant grief, remorse, and trauma as a result of the deaths of his passengers and crew.”

The incident's victims included a biologist, data scientist, physics teacher, five members of the same family, and so on. It was the biggest maritime disaster in U.S. history and is the reason for new laws to be included in marine vehicle regulations.

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