SAN JOSE (CBS SF) — High School students in Fremont and Santa Cruz, employees at Apple and health care workers at a Stockton hospital were all in mourning Wednesday, trying to come to grips the deadly toll of a Labor Day weekend dive boat fire.
Coast Guard Lt. Zach Farrell confirmed that 13 bodies were recovered on Tuesday. Of the 34 victims of the fire, mostly from the Bay Area, 33 remains have been recovered with one person still listed as missing.
Five crew members, including the captain, managed to escape. The vessel eventually sank and overturned, making the recovery of bodies challenging.
NTSB Board Member Jennifer Homendy and USCG Capt. Jason Neubauer tour the berthing area of small passenger vessel Vision, a similar vessel to Conception. pic.twitter.com/Qc7qHbCMKD
— NTSB_Newsroom (@NTSB_Newsroom) September 4, 2019
At Fremont’s American High School, grief stricken students arrived for classes Wednesday with heavy hearts after hearing that Raymond Scott Chan, a “beloved” AP physics teacher, and his daughter were among the dive boat victims.
In a statement released to parents and the media, school spokesman Brian Killgore called Chan’s death “a tremendous tragedy for our school district.”
On social media, both Scott and his daughter, Kendra Chan, posted pictures that showed their love for the water and nature. Scott reposted a video by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service of his daughter, where she spoke about how she became a wildlife biologist.
“I grew up scuba diving here in the Channel Islands; I would go with my dad every year and I love it,” she said in the interview. “I grew up really fortunate to have parents that both majored in science.”
Kendra Chan and her father — Scott — died in the Southern California boat fire.
They shared a passion over scuba diving.
She was a biologist who once said: “I grew up scuba diving here in the Channel Islands; I would go with my dad every year and I love it.” pic.twitter.com/pWuvt8HhAg
— Maria Medina KPIX5 (@MariaKPIX) September 4, 2019
In one of his last Facebook posts, Scott uploaded a picture of himself scuba diving with a comment that said, “My daughter lives in Ventura, so it’s my excuse to visit her.”
The father and daughter died the day before Labor Day on the scuba diving boat, the Conception, when it caught fire in the early morning hours off the coast of Santa Cruz Island. The inferno trapped 34 people on-board.
“He enjoyed his diving and he did it all up and down the coast here,” said Charles McKinven.
The Pacific Scuba Divers instructor said that Scott was a long-time customer at the shop and had even tried to convince the owner to come with him on the doomed trip.
“He was actually being texted last week to go on that trip, but obviously he didn’t go on it,” McKinven said. “I was in total shock.”
“It’s tough to put into words, really, the fact that you know somebody that was diving and to go through an incident like this and they’re gone, you can’t really fathom it.”
Neanwhile in Stockton, a relative identified his five family members who died in the fire as Michael Quitasol, Fernisa Sison, Angela Quitasol, Evan Quitasol and Nicole Quitasol.
Dominic Selga, Fernisa Sison’s son, told CBS Sacramento the trip on the Conception started off as a birthday celebration for Michael before it became a tragedy.
“You know deep down that it’s true, that they’ve passed on and they were in that boat and they are not going to be found,” Selga said.
It’s hard for Selga to believe some of the most important people in his life are gone. All that’s left now are haunting questions.
“What were they thinking? What happened? Why did it happen? What did they wake up to? Were they awake? Did they even wake up?” Selga said.
A man who described himself to KPIX 5 as an immediate family member said 17-year-old Tia Salika, a student at Pacific Collegiate School in Santa Cruz, was one of the victims. She was onboard the Conception with her father, Steve Salika, and his wife, Diana Adamic, celebrating her 17th birthday with the diving trip.
Steve Salika was an Apple veteran employee of over 30 years, the company said, and he and Diana met while working there. In a statement to KPIX 5, Deirdre O’Brien, Apple’s Senior Vice President of Retail and People, said:
“It’s with very heavy hearts that we mourn the passing of two of our colleagues in the tragic boat fire that took place Labor Day weekend. We share our deepest condolences with their families and friends. Steve was a 30-year Apple veteran whose energy and enthusiasm touched so many people across our company throughout his career. He met his wife at Apple and was aboard with her and their daughter.”