Our Blog

Operators of Deadly Scuba Boat Charter Named in Sixteen Past Lawsuits

By Walkup Law Office, September 18, 2019

Walkup’s investigation into last week’s scuba boat fire that resulted in the deaths of thirty-four people has revealed that the boat’s operators have faced over a dozen lawsuits in the past, including at least ten personal injury lawsuits and an allegation of wrongful death.

The tragedy began in the early hours of September 2, 2019, just off the shore of the Santa Barbara coast. The passengers of Conception, a charter scuba ship operated by Truth Aquatics, Inc., were asleep below deck. A fire started somewhere on the ship and soon engulfed the vessel, trapping most of the passengers in its hold. The ship sank, claiming the lives of thirty-four people.

Preliminary investigation has revealed that Truth Aquatics, Inc. has named a defendant in over a dozen lawsuits, including at least ten personal injury suits. Glen Fritzler and Dana Fritzler, along with the “Fritzler Family Trust,” who are believed to have an ownership stake in the boat Conception and its operating companies, have already filed a case asking a federal court to “exonerate” them from liability stemming from these casualties.

Walkup’s investigator has unearthed a former lawsuit filed in San Francisco Superior Court, which alleges that Truth Aquatics, Inc. recklessly permitted a customer diver to dive without properly checking his equipment and outfitting him with “grossly excessive ballast weights.” As the diver entered the water, he became entangled in his scuba gear, and his ballast weights dragged him to the bottom. The scuba charter’s designated rescue diver then attempted an improperly delayed rescue, resulting in the drowning death of the customer diver. The diver was survived only by his minor daughter.

Walkup continues to investigate the details of this and other personal injury cases in which Truth Aquatics, Inc. is named as a defendant.

On September 9th, The New York Times reported that authorities have searched the offices of Truth Aquatics, Inc. suggesting that criminal charges may be filed in connection with the deaths. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is expected to release its preliminary findings of the cause of the fire and loss of the scuba ship.

Walkup has had extensive success investigating and prosecuting fire origin and cause, maritime injury, and mass-casualty cases, including its prosecution of the Berkeley Library Gardens apartment balcony collapse, which resulted in the deaths of 6 students in 2015.

If you or a loved one was affected by the Conception scuba boat fire, please contact attorneys Matthew Davis or Douglas Saeltzer at the Walkup Law Office at 415-981-7210.