Coworkers and friends of a San Diego woman killed in the tragic diving boat fire off the Southern California coast gathered Thursday for a fundraiser at the Coronado bar where she used to work.
Friends have described 31-year-old Nicole Quitasol as nothing short of amazing. The same sentiment was shared by her coworkers and regulars at Nicky Rottens Bar & Burger Joint on Coronado Island.
"She was loved by everybody,” Quitasol’s friend, Jennifer Riley, said.
Many of her friends spent the evening prior at Mission Bay for a memorial paddle out underneath the setting sun. On Thursday, they set up shop at the bar for the first of many fundraisers planned for Quitasol’s family.
Quitasol was on a diving excursion aboard the Conception on Labor Day weekend celebrating her father’s birthday with their family. Quitasol, two of her sisters, her father and his wife are all presumed dead in the fire that ripped through the commercial diving boat.
Nicky Rottens stayed open well past its regular hours so that friends, and even complete strangers, could pay their respects and contribute to the Quitasols’ funeral fund.
The fundraiser grabbed the attention of passers-by like Bob Payne and his wife Patty who slipped a few bills into the donation can.
"The tragedy of so many from the same family makes it even more critical," Payne, a Coronado resident, said.
Quitasol’s boyfriend Ryan Morina and their beloved golden retriever Peanut Butter were at the event, surrounded by supportive friends at all times.
The benefit was an opportunity to share a hug and a memory or two about Quitasol and keep her legacy alive. Sunflowers were her favorite flower and several of them were dropped off at the bar before the event. Staffers put them in vases around the bar for anyone who wanted to take one home.
“We’re deeply heartbroken but we are here to help. Whatever we can do to help the family get through this,” Riley said.
Nicole is survived by her sister and mother. Nicky Rottens is giving part of Thursday’s proceeds, the tips and any donations collected to Quitasol's surviving family members.
A GoFundMe page was launched to help raise funds for the family, too.