Captain Indicted On 34 Counts of Seaman’s Manslaughter After Fire Violations On Vessel

A federal grand jury has indicted the captain of a dive boat of 34 counts of seaman’s manslaughter.  The federal indictment comes after the dive boat,  Conception, caught fire off the coast of Santa Cruz and cost the lives of  33 passengers and one crew member.

The Paso Robles Daily News reports that the indictment of 67-year-old Jerry Nehl Boylan alleges that as captain, he was “responsible for the safety and security of the vessel, its crew, and passengers.” Boylan’s attorneys were advised of the indictment after it was filed.  

Boylan is expected to surrender to federal authorities within the next few weeks.

The indictment alleges that Boylan failed to have a night watch or roving patrol on board on the night of the accident. According to the Code of Federal Regulations, this is is a requirement for certification of the vessel Conception.   Boylan additionally broke CFR regulations by not conducting sufficient fire drills and failing to conduct sufficient crew training.

Members of the grand jury said that Boylan’s “misconduct, negligence, and inattention to his duties” were what led to the tragedy in which lives were lost on Labor Day, September 19th, 2019.  

The National Transportation Safety Board investigation released its findings in October 2020. 

United States Attorney Nick Hanna said in a statement, “As a result of the alleged failures of Captain Boylan to follow well-established safety rules, a pleasant holiday dive trip turned into a hellish nightmare as passengers and one crew member found themselves trapped in a fiery bunkroom with no means of escape,” he said. 

Hanna said that with Boylan’s indictment, he hopes that it will be a “small measure of justice for the victims and their loved ones.”

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