VENTURA, Calif. – A crewman injured in the fire that killed 34 people aboard the dive boat Conception off Southern California has sued the boat owner and the company that chartered the vessel.
Ryan Sims filed the lawsuit last week in Ventura County Superior Court, saying the Conception dive boat was unseaworthy and was operated in an unsafe manner.
Attorney Kurt Arnold says Sims was the steward and was sleeping on the upper deck of the boat when he was awakened by loud noises the morning of Sept. 2 and found the vessel on fire as it was anchored off Santa Cruz Island.
Arnold says his client was trapped and had to jump to the lower deck, where he broke his leg in three places.
A lawyer for the Santa Barbara-based boat company, Truth Aquatics, did not immediately respond to emails seeking comment on the lawsuit.
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Five crew members of the Conception, including Sims, managed to escape after the predawn fire on Labor Day engulfed the boat as victims slept below deck during a three-day scuba diving excursion.
Flames moved so quickly that they blocked a narrow stairway and an escape hatch, giving those below virtually no chance of escaping, authorities said.
One crew member who was below deck died, along with 33 passengers.
The Conception was owned and operated by Truth Aquatics, a Santa Barbara-based company founded in 1974 and owned by Glen Fritzler. The boat had been chartered by Worldwide Diving Adventures.
Among those killed in the fire was Worldwide Diving Adventures co-owner Kristina Finstad, 41.
This story will be updated.
This article originally appeared on Ventura County Star: California boat fire: crewman sues Conception owner over tragedy