Family, Friends Mourn California Boat Fire Victims - NBC 7 San Diego
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Family, Friends Mourn California Boat Fire Victims

Among those who lost their lives were a 41-year-old marine biologist, a 25-year-old crew member who was dedicated to the Southern California scuba community and three sisters celebrating a birthday for their father, also presumed dead

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Names of Victims in Dive Boat Disaster Released

    What's left of the dive boat from last week's deadly fire is now moving to a secure location after being raised to the surface. Jane Yamamoto reports for the NBC4 News on Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019. (Published Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019)

    Family and friends converged on Southern California to learn the fates of their loved ones after a commercial scuba boat erupted in flames off the coast near Santa Cruz Island on Labor Day. Thirty four people died in the tragedy. 

    Among those who lost their lives were a 41-year-old marine biologist, a 25-year-old crew member who was dedicated to the Southern California scuba community and three sisters celebrating a birthday for their father, who also died, along with his wife.

    Remembering the Victims of the SoCal Boat Tragedy

    Thirty four people died on a boat that caught fire in the waters near Santa Cruz Island in Southern California on Labor Day, Sept. 2, 2019. These are their stories.

    Sources: NBC Research

    Here are their stories.

    Carol Diana Adamic, 60, Santa Cruz, California

    Adamic died on the scuba trip along with her husband, Steve Salika and his daughter, Tia, a student at Pacific Collegiate School, a charter school in Santa Cruz. Tia's fellow student Berenice Felipe also died on the trip. "Obviously, our hearts are with these two PCS families, and we hope and pray that they are found safe," wrote Maria C. Reitano, the head of the school. "As we await more information, please know that PCS is prepared to respond to difficult times such as this. We will have additional counselors on site tomorrow and in the days to come, who are trained to help support students, staff, parents, and our entire school community. This tragedy is sure to raise many emotions, concerns, and questions for our entire school, especially our students."

    Neal Gustav Baltz, 42, Phoenix, Arizona

    Baltz died on the scuba trip with his girlfriend, Patricia Beitzinger, said Beitzinger's niece, Hannah. Hannah said in a Facebook message that her aunt and Baltz were perfect for each other and she considered him her uncle.

    Patricia Beitzinger, 48, Chandler, Arizona

    Beitzinger died on the scuba trip with her boyfriend, Neal Baltz, said Beitzinger's niece, Hannah. "She's one of the coolest people I ever met," Hannah said in a Facebook message. "She was adventurous and brave and always living every day as full as she could, she was always going on these amazing trips around the world. And so goofy she has a great sense of humor and was always smiling and laughing. And Neal was the same way, they were perfect for each other and I considered him my uncle as well."

    Kendra Chan, 26, Oxnard, California

    Kendra Chan was on the boat with her father, R. Scott Chan, a physics teacher at American High School in Fremont. In a Facebook post, Kendra's brother, Kevin, wrote: "Thanks for being my big sister, Kendra. I'll miss you and your love for all things outdoors and underwater. Rest easy."

    Raymond Scott Chan, 59, Los Altos, California

    Raymond Scott Chan, a physics teacher in Northern California, was identified as one of the people killed in the boat fire off the coast of Santa Cruz island, according to the Fremont Unified School District. His daughter Kendra, a marine biologist in Southern California, also was aboard the Conception. The school district tweeted, "We are saddened to report the passing of American High School Physics Teacher, Raymond (Scott) Chan, who was among the fatalities of this weekend's boat fire off the coast of Santa Barbara. We send our condolences to Mr. Chan's family and the American High School community."

    Adrian Dahood-Fritz, 40, Sacramento, California

    Dahood-Fritz and her husband, Andrew Fritz, were aboard the boat, according to a statement by Gov. Gavin Newsom. Dahood-Fritz had worked for the California Natural Resources Agency's Ocean Protection Council since April as a senior environmental scientist. "Adrian led the state's efforts to manage California's network of marine protected areas, and she cared deeply about the ocean and biodiversity," Newsom said. "She embodied marine conservation and was a highly accomplished and respected scientific researcher."

    Justin Carroll Dignam, 58, Anaheim, California

    Dignam, the 58-year-old founder of Big Fish Employer Services in Placentia, leaves behind wife Christine and two children. He lived in Anaheim Hills for more than 20 years. He was a veteran water polo player and coach at the university level who recently learned how to scuba dive. Described by neighbors as "kindest soul ever" who was a philanthropist, he gave a lot to charity. Neighbors say dozens if not more than 100 people showed up to a vigil by his home Thursday night.

    Berenice Felipe, 16, Santa Cruz, California

    Felipe, a student at Pacific Collegiate School, a charter school in Santa Cruz, died on the scuba trip with fellow student Tia Salinka and Salinka's parents. "Obviously, our hearts are with these two PCS families, and we hope and pray that they are found safe," wrote Maria C. Reitano, the head of the school. "As we await more information, please know that PCS is prepared to respond to difficult times such as this. We will have additional counselors on site tomorrow and in the days to come, who are trained to help support students, staff, parents, and our entire school community. This tragedy is sure to raise many emotions, concerns, and questions for our entire school, especially our students." A gofundme page has been set up for her funeral.

    Lisa Fiedler, 52, Mill Valley, California

    Fiedler was a hairdresser and photographer.

    Kristy Finstad, 41, Santa Cruz, California

    Finstad was a diving enthusiast who was leading the dive trip as the co-owner of Worldwide Diving Adventures. She ran the company with her husband, Dan Chua, who was leading another dive in Costa Rica when the boat Finstad was on caught fire. Finstad's brother Brett Harmeling of Houston asked for prayers in a Facebook post. "Thank You ALL for your unconditional love and support during this incredibly tragic time," he wrote. "My family and I truly appreciate it. "No final word on my sister Kristy; however, it is likely she has transitioned to be with the good Lord."

    Andrew Fritz, 40, Sacramento, California

    Fritz was aboard the boat with his wife Adrian Dahood-Fritz, a senior environmental scientist for the California Natural Resources Agency's Ocean Protection Council, said Gov. Gavin Newsom.

    Daniel Garcia, 46, Berkeley, California

    Garcia, from Berkeley, worked for Apple. He was on the boat with Yulia Krashennaya. He was 46.

    Marybeth Guiney, 51, Santa Monica, California

    Guiney, a sales director and ocean enthusiast from Santa Monica who was dedicated to the protection of sharks and other sea life, was hailed by friends as an outgoing figure who always had a smile. "She was such an inspiration, a voice to help understand and protect sharks, and shared her pictures and stories as she traveled the world," one friend wrote on Facebook. "She was endlessly energetic, optimistic and always had a smile to share. Just can't believe it. What a tragedy for so many." Another wrote: "Her gentle and sweet nature made her a great companion ... Marybeth was 'good people.'"' Another added: "You were hysterical. You were real. I will always think about you and smile." She was 51.

    Alexandra Kurtz, 26, Santa Barbara, California

    Family described Kurtz as an energetic go-getter who was passionate about scuba diving and lived life to the fullest. "She loved it here," Kurtz's sister Cherie McDonough said. "She loved the boat. She loved diving." She also loved exploring nature in the ocean and had been embraced by Southern California's tight-knit diving community, her sister said.

    Charles McIlvain, 44, Santa Monica, California

    McIlvain, according to his Facebook page, worked as a visual effects designer for Walt Disney Imagineering. His wife, filmmaker Jasmine Lord, was not with him on Conception dive boat. Her online posts indicated she was working over the weekend in Miami — in the path of Hurricane Dorian. McIlvain's friends also poured out their hearts online, calling him one of "the kindest, funniest people you'll every meet."

    Caroline McLaughlin, 35, Oakland, California

    She was a 35-year-old Oakland, California, resident. Angela Rose Quitasol

    Angela Rose Quitasol, 28, Stockton, California

    Quitasol died on the scuba trip with her two sisters and mother-in-law who were celebrating the birthday of their father, Michael, who also died, according to the sisters' mother. "It is with a broken heart ... 3 of our daughters were on this boat. As of now they are still missing. My #1, Evanmichel Solano Quitasol, my #3, NicoleStorm Quitasol and my #4, Angela Rose Quitasol. My girls' dad Michel Storm Quitasol and step mom were also on the boat. We are getting the latest information from the media. The authorities do not have much to say to us. Thank you to all of you for your support prayers and good wishes."

    Evan Michel Quitasol, 37, Stockton, California

    Evanmichel Quitasol died with her two sisters and mother in law who were celebrating the birthday of their father, Michael, who also died on the scuba trip, according to the sisters' mother. "It is with a broken heart ... 3 of our daughters were on this boat. As of now they are still missing. My #1, Evanmichel Solano Quitasol, my #3, NicoleStorm Quitasol and my #4, Angela Rose Quitasol. My girls' dad Michel Storm Quitasol and step mom were also on the boat. We are getting the latest information from the media. The authorities do not have much to say to us. Thank you to all of you for your support prayers and good wishes."

    Michael Quitasol, 62, Stockton, California

    Michael Quitasol was celebrating his birthday with his three daughters and wife.

    Nicole Storm Quitasol, 31, Imperial Beach, California

    Nicole Quitasol lived in San Diego and worked at Nicky Rottens Bar & Burger Joint in Coronado for the last four years, according to the restaurant. "She was one of a kind. She was ahead of her time, for sure. An old soul that was just in love the outdoors, anything to do with her dog, peanut butter, anything to do with water, beaches, diving, paddle boarding — I mean, that was her life," Nicky Rottens CFO Bryn Butolph told NBC7.

    Steve Salika, 55, Santa Cruz, California

    Salika was a 30-year veteran at Apple. He died on the scuba trip along with his daughter, Tia, a student at Pacific Collegiate School, a charter school in Santa Cruz, and Tia's fellow student Berenice Felipe. In a statement, an Apple spokesman 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. Dan was as passionate about his job at Apple as he was about his love of diving. Both leave many friends behind and will be deeply missed."

    Tia Salika-Adamic, 17, Santa Cruz, California

    Tia Salika, a student at Pacific Collegiate School, a charter school in Santa Cruz, died on the scuba trip with her parents and fellow student Berenice Felipe. "Obviously, our hearts are with these two PCS families, and we hope and pray that they are found safe," wrote Maria C. Reitano, the head of the school. "As we await more information, please know that PCS is prepared to respond to difficult times such as this. We will have additional counselors on site tomorrow and in the days to come, who are trained to help support students, staff, parents, and our entire school community. This tragedy is sure to raise many emotions, concerns, and questions for our entire school, especially our students."

    Fernisa Sison, 57, Stockton, California

    Sison was the stepmother of the Quitasol sisters, who were celebrating their father's birthday when the sisters, their father and Sison died.