Cal, Stanford grads killed in Conception dive boat fire
A recent Cal Berkeley graduate and a research scientist from Palo Alto have been identified by friends and family as victims of the Conception dive boat fire.
Wei Tan, 26, earned a graduate degree from Cal earlier this year, according to her Facebook page. Wei's sister, Cheerin Tan, announced her death on Facebook, saying, "At the moment, my family is coping well while we wait for DNA testing to be completed."
"It hurts, it will always hurt, but we will move on..." the sister added.
Sunil Singh Sandhu, 46, was also killed in the fire, his parents told The New Paper. Sandhu had been living in the United States for at least 20 years, though both Sandhu and Tan were born in Singapore.
Sandhu's father, Sojit, says his son earned a both a masters and doctoral degree from Stanford, and was working as a research scientist.
"My mind went blank. I thought this was a hoax. My whole life is gone. I can never find another boy like him," he told the website.
The fire, which started early Labor Day morning, claimed the lives of 34 people. Only five crew members survived — they had been sleeping on the top deck when the fire started below.
On Friday, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office officially released the names of nine of the fire victims, though more than two dozen have been publicly identified by friends or family.
Yulia Krashennaya, 40, of Berkeley, was also named as a victim. Krashennaya has been identified by friends as the girlfriend of Dan Garcia, also of Berkeley, one of the two Apple employees killed in the fire.
Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown told reporters earlier this week the "majority" of the fire victims were from Northern California.
The names of of the victims released by the sheriff are:
- Raymond Scott Chan, 59, Los Altos
- Justin Carroll Dignam, 58, Anaheim
- Daniel Garcia, 46, Berkeley
- Marybeth Guiney, 51, Santa Monica
- Yulia Krashennaya, 40, of Berkeley
- Alexandra Kurtz, 25, Santa Barbara
- Caroline McLaughlin, 35, Oakland
- Ted Strom, 62, Germantown, Tennessee
- Wei Tan, 26, Goleta
As of Friday, 18 victims have been identified by authorities.
Authorities say medical examiners believe dozens of people who were trapped when a California scuba diving boat caught fire died of smoke inhalation, not burns.
Brown told reporters Friday that all the victims sleeping in tight quarters below deck had signs of smoke inhalation and a preliminary examination shows they died before being burned.
Brown says there are no plans to conduct traditional autopsies, with a pathologist convinced smoke inhalation is the primary cause of death, but examiners will make a final determination.
The sheriff says there are multiple investigations into different aspects of the fire but that it hasn't become a criminal probe.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.