Investigators discuss dive boat disaster

Investigators have begun interviewing the five crew members who survived the deadly dive boat fire off the coast of Santa Barbara early Monday morning.

The owner of the Conception and its crew members underwent hours of detailed questioning on Wednesday, said Jennifer Homendy of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). The boat owner and crew members were “very cooperative with investigators.”

Investigators also announced that the surviving crew members tested negative for alcohol, Homendy said. Drug tests are pending.

Searchers have recovered 33 bodies from the charred vessel and the ocean floor, only one person remains missing. The names of those who died have not yet been officially released.

The Conception, a 75-foot commercial diving vessel, was anchored off the north side of Santa Cruz Island for a weekend diving excursion. At about 3:15 a.m., a crew member made a mayday call saying that the boat was on fire.

The five surviving crew member jumped overboard, got in a rubber boat, and headed to a nearby vessel, The Grape Escape. After the owners awoke because of pounding on the hull, they helped rescue the five crew members.

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