Judge sentences Santa Barbara ship captain to four years in prison

May 3, 2024


A federal judge on Thursday sentenced the captain of the Santa Barbara-based dive boat that burst into flames in 2019, killing 33 passengers and one crew member, to four years in prison.

The Conception, a 75-foot commercial diving vessel, was anchored off the north side of Santa Cruz Island for a weekend diving excursion. During the early morning hours of Sept. 2, 2019, a fire engulfed the boat and led to its sinking, resulted in the deaths of 34 people who had been sleeping below deck. Five crew members, including Jerry Nehl Boylan, escaped and survived.

Boylan was the first crew member to flee the burning vessel. Boylan, as the captain and master of the vessel, was responsible for the safety and security of the ship, its crew, and its passengers.

Members of the captain’s family asked the judge not to give 69-year-old Boylan the maximum 10-year sentence.

On the other side, the victims’ family members described their losses and sorrows.


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Comes out to almost 43 days per person killed, perhaps the judge would have given a higher sentence if it was one of their family members killed?