Owner of Conception Boat Speaks Out

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Conception in front of a rainbow on the open seas (Photo: Mike Eliason)

By edhat staff

The owner of the Conception diving boat that caught fire and 34 lost their lives people on Monday addressed rumors in a recent interview.

Glen Fritzler, the owner of Truth Aquatics Inc. which operates three diving boats in the Santa Barbara Harbor including Conception, answered questions and provided clarification in a phone interview on Tuesday with Spectrum News.

During the interview, Fritzler stressed there were two entrances into the bunking area on Conception, a main entrance via stairs and an emergency escape hatch. The U.S. Coast Guard has also confirmed this in press conferences. He also stated there were no doors and it was a wide-open doorway without the possibility of locked doors.

Five of the six crew members survived the fire because they were on the upper deck of the vessel where all the passengers and one crew member slept in the below-deck bunking area.

"... the flames reached up there and they had to make a large leap off the boat to escape the boat ... I want [the public] to know that a couple of the crewmen swam to the stern of the boat, that could not access any of the fire hoses because they were engulfed," said Fritzler during the interview.

He also confirmed the two mayday calls were made in the wheelhouse of Conception by the captain who was the last to leave the boat. 

When asked how the crew is doing, Fritzler said they're emotional wrecks most likely suffering from survivor's guilt.

It was confirmed there was no type of accelerant on the boat as everything is electric. 

"Of all of the years I've been in this business, I've never seen or heard of anything like this," Fritzler told Spectrum News. "It's a complete tragedy. It's horrible."

The full interview can be read here.

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EastBeach Sep 06, 2019 08:24 PM
Owner of Conception Boat Speaks Out

Regarding the court filing ... Larry Mantle's Airtalk show went into that a little with a maritime attorney today. The attorney claimed these types of filings are "routine" in maritime mass casualty events and may have been filed by Truth Aquatic's insurance carrier. That part of the program is after the 25:00 min mark ....... https://www.scpr.org/programs/airtalk/2019/09/06/20105/

EastBeach Sep 06, 2019 08:29 PM
Owner of Conception Boat Speaks Out

Forgot to say the maritime attorney on the show also claimed that the filing does not provide absolute liability protection and cited as an example knowledge of negligence.

Concerned4Calif Sep 06, 2019 11:07 AM
Owner of Conception Boat Speaks Out

I am curious who the voice is on the mayday call and why they started asking about locked doors. Something must have put this idea into his mind ? Seems that could be sussed out to put that whole rumor string to bed.

PitMix Sep 06, 2019 03:33 PM
Owner of Conception Boat Speaks Out

Mayday calls were by Captain- he made 2 before he had to abandon the ship. The news says they tried to get through the aft galley doors to help the passengers, which were closed, but could not due to the fire. Could not open the doors. I think that is where the 'locked' doors misconception got started. They also could not open the windows in the front of the galley from the outside like they should be able to, maybe the heat of the fire made them expand and jammed them shut? The windows would have been the best exit if anyone had been able to get up the stairs.

tagdes Sep 05, 2019 07:35 PM
Owner of Conception Boat Speaks Out

If the owner is such a great guy then he could have at least waited until all the victims were found and buried before filing his lawsuit to fight off costly litigation and limit his liability to the victims families. He has 6 months to do it, so filing three days after the deadly inferno has surprised a lot of legal experts.

Alexblue Sep 06, 2019 10:12 AM
Owner of Conception Boat Speaks Out

It's a horrible situation for everyone. I don't know what the legal ramifications of his doing this are. I also don't know how someone could conceivably continue in this business after a tragedy of this magnitude. Personally, I couldn't, but that's an individual decision.

PitMix Sep 06, 2019 10:07 AM
Owner of Conception Boat Speaks Out

LA Times says this is based on an 1851 Federal Law that makes the boat owner only liable for the amount the vessel is worth after the incident. In this case it is $0 because the vessel was totally destroyed. Boat owner has to prove that he was not liable for what happened. But all this happens in Federal Court, otherwise he could have been sued in State Court by the families. If Feinstein wants to help, maybe she should update this ancient law?

SantaBarbaraObserver Sep 06, 2019 09:03 AM
Owner of Conception Boat Speaks Out

Optics? I seriously doubt the optics could be any worse in this case... In law and in life, you seek solid legal advice and you act accordingly. You do what you have to do to protect yourself and your family. Maritime law is a whole different ball of wax. Its based on centuries of patchwork, international treaties and laws and requires a very specialized attorney. This is strictly a legal move that will work itself out over time.

PitMix Sep 06, 2019 08:06 AM
Owner of Conception Boat Speaks Out

The optics of the move are not good. And unless he has great insurance, I doubt that his business will survive no matter what legal moves he makes. They must have considered all of these factors so it will be interesting to see how this plays out.

420722 Sep 05, 2019 10:22 PM
Owner of Conception Boat Speaks Out

Guess you don’t have the ability to put yourself in other peoples shoes. It’s common for people to demand tens of millions of dollars from just one death, there were 34. Do the math and ask yourself what you would do. His decision has nothing to do with greatness. He is absolutely devastated. We all are.

a-1571067283 Sep 05, 2019 09:29 PM
Owner of Conception Boat Speaks Out

I don't think taking quick action to protect his business/livelihood, poor timing or not, makes him not a great guy. Sometimes tough decisions need to be made.

a-1571067283 Sep 05, 2019 05:59 PM
Owner of Conception Boat Speaks Out

I’ve been out to the islands on private sail boats and on the Truth. I know most captains stay up all night (or sleeps with one eye open) making sure the boat doesn’t drift too close to shore or come loose from mooring, etc. not this crew...

a-1571067283 Sep 05, 2019 05:51 PM
Owner of Conception Boat Speaks Out

Smoke detectors failed. People died. Sad, but I can’t halo wonder if they had had more time - been alerted sooner. Apparently everyone - even crew - were asleep when it started.

mrtrump Sep 05, 2019 07:35 PM
Owner of Conception Boat Speaks Out

Where was the patrolling watch that federal law required? The crew member that discovered the fire was asleep when the fire started and was awakened by a noise.

Flicka Sep 05, 2019 03:46 PM
Owner of Conception Boat Speaks Out

If the owner of the dive boats said there was no way to lock a door then trying to make him a liar is unacceptable. Why would he lie? The poor man is in enough pain and grief without sticking a knife into him. The investigation will turn up all the facts, no reason to "lie" ahead of that as the truth will come out, especially about the made up guesses here on Edhat. Accusing Edhat of "protecting the owner" by not posting "made up omission details" is really out in left field.

sbsunshine Sep 05, 2019 02:36 PM
Owner of Conception Boat Speaks Out

Idea - Roger can you help on this -- what if we created a virtual healing circle on Edhat where we start a story that is " share all your great stories and memories of the owner, crew, boats and experiences of Truth Aquatics here". Give them a virtual hug during this time of great pain. SB is a community of innovative thinkers, people with cutting edge knowledge in so many area and peoplecwith generous, conscious hearts that can execute healing in unique unexpected ways... imagine how healing it would be for the community and company to be reminded now of their greatness, and show that we have their backs on this and will not let them fall into the darkness of grief... together we hold hands on this journey... Edgar has the only active community board that can create this... I'm seeing organizations life the Santa Barbara wildlife care network share how the crew regularly rescues hurt wildlife and volunteers... mesa Burger is doing what they did during the FEMA disaster and feeding people... they are a safe healing spot... I think the REAL stories of these amazing people -- owners, crew, boats, diving community needs equal or greater focus....

SoCalMommy Sep 05, 2019 02:03 PM
Owner of Conception Boat Speaks Out

Truth Aquatics has had an excellent reputation in town for four decades, and with good reason. Those boats are immaculate and very well kept. This is a horrific, tragic accident. Dragging the company through the mud through speculation is only inflicting more pain. Let the investigation take place. Let the focus be on coming together to remember those lost and comforting our diving community.

AdamVant Sep 05, 2019 12:36 PM
Owner of Conception Boat Speaks Out

I'm just here to read the innuendo, aspersions and completely uninformed opinions of the Edhat know-it-alls. Bring it, know-it-alls.

mrtrump Sep 05, 2019 11:46 AM
Owner of Conception Boat Speaks Out

Is edhat attempting to protect the owners of Conception by not posting comments that point out errors, omissions and falsehoods made by the owner? Such as his statement that the galley did not have a door, much less a door that had a lock on the outside of the door? A former employee of Truth Aquatics, Chris Connelly, stated in an interview with ABC News that Conception did indeed have a locking galley door. That interview is on YouTube, and can easily be verified by edhat. Connelly also stated that Vision has a similar door with a lock, a fact that edhat can confirm by simply going down the the harbor and examining Vision. All these facts are being given to the families of the victims, so edhat is really not protecting the boat owners by suppressing the truth.

a-1571067283 Sep 06, 2019 04:26 PM
Owner of Conception Boat Speaks Out

MrTrump is your handle? I see, you’re just another liberal trying to make a negative association. Tsk, tsk.

Pebblehill Sep 05, 2019 02:10 PM
Owner of Conception Boat Speaks Out

Heavy sigh...the reason the owner explained there are were no doors closing off the 3rd level bunk area is because the 911 operator asked if the passengers were locked and and could the caller go back to the boat and unlock the doors, starting the rumor that there may have been locked doors. It’s clear there were no doors between the bunk area and the above level. Moot point about a galley door since they could not reach that area apparently anyway. I suspect that MRTRUMP is trolling us all.

a-1571067283 Sep 05, 2019 12:47 PM
Owner of Conception Boat Speaks Out

MRTRUMP - Just as with your namesake, facts don't seem to matter to you. Just shooting your mouth off for attention.

a-1571067283 Sep 05, 2019 12:07 PM
Owner of Conception Boat Speaks Out

You absolute imbecile with a fitting name Mr. Trump. The former employee stated the doors are NEVER locked and do not have locks. You're quoting it wrong. Also, edhat does not have investigative journalists, furthermore, NO journalists are allowed to go hang out on the Vision or Truth boats to just pop in and take a look. No one is suppressing the truth, YOU ARE SPREADING LIES. Here is the interview that you quoted inaccurately -----https://www.abc10.com/article/news/local/california/former-crewman-and-captain-of-boat-that-caught-fire-explains-safety-measures/103-2ddc8473-8975-442d-aa5e-cec2268c6691-----

a-1571067283 Sep 05, 2019 10:12 AM
Owner of Conception Boat Speaks Out

Exactly why I think there is the possibility that it was a lithium ion batter in some sort of device, either camera equipment or something else. It's the only thing that makes any sense here. I feel so bad for the owners, and all the family of those who perished, and the surviving crew. I look forward to the results of the investigation as I think, at least hope, it will bring some closure and with that, whatever sense of peace can be reached in this terrible tragedy.

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