Conception crew member files for damages

A crew member who was injured during the Conception boat disaster that killed 34 people has filed for damages against the owner of the vessel and the dive company that sponsored the trip. [Pacific Coast Business Times]

In the filing, Ryan Sims says he was asleep on the top deck of the ship when he awoke to loud noises. Trapped by a fire, Sims and three other crew members were forced to jump from the top deck. 

As a result, Sims fractured his leg in three places and sustained other injuries that required extensive medical treatment, according to the suit.

Sims also alleges Truth Aquatics did not properly maintain the vessel, properly train its employees or provide adequate safety equipment and rules. The Conception was operated in an obviously dangerous condition, and it did not have adequate means of emergency evacuation, according to the filing. 

A preliminary report issued by the National Transportation Safety Board offers similar accounts from the four other crew members who survived the boat disaster off the Channel Islands early in the morning on Sept. 2.

In the aftermath of the deadly fire and sinking of the vessel, multiple law enforcement agencies, including the FBI and ATF, searched Truth Aquatics’ office in Santa Barbara, as well as the company’s two remaining boats. Truth Aquatics operates water and scuba diving excursions.

Ryan Sims’ filing in Ventura County Superior Court names Truth Aquatics and dive charter company Worldwide Diving Adventures as plaintiffs. Sims is seeking damages under the federal Jones Act, alleging unseaworthiness and general maritime negligence.

Truth Aquatics has already filed a claim of its own, making use of a 19th Century maritime law in a lawsuit attempting to limit the company’s liability in the aftermath of the disaster. 

The cause of the boat fire remains under investigation.