Captain of Dive Boat That Caught Fire Sentenced to Four Years

Disgraced boat captain, Jerry Boylan, abandoned ship first, didn’t try to fight the fire and left his 34 passengers to die in the blaze.

Courtesy: U.S. Coast Guard District 11

The disgraced boat captain of the dive charter boat Conception that burned, killing 34 people, off California in 2019 was sentenced to four years in prison today by a federal judge in Los Angeles. 

We reported extensively on the tragedy when it occurred, five years ago. Our own Capt. Chris Caswell dug in, interviewed investigators and produced a report detailing things boat owners can learn from. 

Read Now: Lessons From the Dive Boat Fire

Kevin Falvey

LOS ANGELES (CNS) — The captain of the dive boat Conception, which caught fire near Santa Cruz Island on Labor Day 2019 was sentenced Thursday to four years behind bars for gross negligence in the deaths of all 33 passengers, including two Santa Monica residents and a crew member.

Jerry Boylan, 70, was sentenced in downtown Los Angeles for the single charged count of misconduct or neglect of ship officer, a pre-Civil War law also known as seaman’s manslaughter. The defense unsuccessfully argued for a five-year probationary sentence, with three years to be served under house arrest.

The fire is considered the worst maritime disaster in modern California history.

U.S. District Judge George H. Wu set a restitution hearing for July 11, at which time — or shortly thereafter — Boylan was ordered to surrender to begin his sentence.

More than 15 family members spoke at the nearly four-hour hearing in Los Angeles federal court, providing memories of children, spouses, brothers and sisters who perished in the fire. Boylan, his head down, never looked at the speakers. When one father of a lost child asked the judge to order the defendant to look at him as he spoke, Wu declined.

Read the full story about the sentencing from ABC7 Los Angeles, here.