Om Monday in Santa Barbara, California, at least 24 people were killed after a commercial diving boat caught fire. The boat was on the tail end of a Labor Day weekend excursion when flames started around 3 am. There were 39 people on board, and sadly most of them perished. Currently, the cause of the fire is still under investigation by the Coast Guard and National Transportation Safety Board, however a mayday call from the boat made it sound like the passengers were some how trapped on the boat.
It was Shirley Hansen and her husband Bob who were able to rescue five of the crew members via a nearby boat, and according to them, the crew felt "helpless" as the exits were blocked.
“The five guys are there in their dinghy, they’re asking me to help them, and their boat is just 400 yards away, fully engulfed,” said Bob Hansen. “They said all of [their passengers] were underneath. They told me then that there was another exit, but that exit was also blocked. They felt so helpless. They said that with everything — so much on fire, so much that they just couldn’t get to them."
“When we looked out, the [Conception] was totally engulfed in flames, from stem to stern,” Hansen told the New York Times. “I could see the fire coming through holes on the side of the boat. There were these explosions every few beats. You can’t prepare yourself for that. It was horrendous.”
Sadly, a lot of the people who were on the boat were families enjoying the long weekend. For one woman, Susana Solano Rosas, three of her daughters were on the boat with their dad and step-mom. None of them survived the horrific accident. Rosas posted a sweet tribute to her daughters, Evan Solano Quitasol, Nicole Storm Quitasol, and Angela Rose Quitasol on Facebook, and thanked everyone who has been reaching out to offer support.
On Monday we came to Santa Barbara in a rush to be with my daughters, Evan, Nicole and Angela. My hopes were that Evan, Nicole, and Angela Rose were only injured. They were such strong swimmers. For sure they would have made it to land. They had only had 20 yards to swim. I was hoping we would be able to hug them and hold them. Instead we don't have them. We can't bring them home yet. I know our children don't belong to us. As parents, we have plans for their life. They had surpassed my expectations I had for them. I was so proud of them and their accomplishments. They each knew it, too.
My three girls were very happy with their lives. They each had found their loves, were well established in their communities with the best part of life ahead of them. The city of Santa Barbara and the people here have been nothing but gracious. I came with no clothes, the Salvation Army helped me. The red cross helped with so many things I cant count. Hospice helped telll [sic] my 8 year old about the accident and that her sisters have died. I wanted to protect her from the information, but according to the grief counselor, this is best. Elizabeth has been so well behaved, ike [sic] a true hero. I want to thank you all for your phone calls, texts, kind words, donations. The setring [sic] up of fumraiser[sic].
I am overwhelmed and humbled by all the support. It gives me great comfort to know my daughters, their dad and his wife were able.to touch so many lives. It is very difficult to know what to say to parents that have lost their children. Or to someone like Christina that lost her sisters, father and step mom. I can only say for me and my hubby, we don't mind the texts, the phone calls the fb messages. I read them all. They bring great comfort to me. If you do call me or my hubby, know we may cry or sob. it does not mean you have upset us. It is because you have touch our heart with your love for another human being.
I have met other's with my same loss. They described their loved ones very similar to mine. My daughters loved people. They loved helping others have better lives through their service. Weather [sic] it was beach clean ups, teaching or.healing. They were environmentalist in the sense that they always were looking at how to help the environment, protecting Mother Eatth[sic]. Especially, the oceans and trees. Sometimes it was a little annoying to walk the beach and have my bucket filled with trash instead of sea shells. I enjoyed every minute I spent with them. I was in my glory when all the Q Girls were around. The Pacific Ocean has called them along with their dad.and step mom.
Tina Beena, the sister of the girls, also posted about the loss of her father and sisters. She was usually on the trip with them all, but this year she couldn't make it.
This is incredibly difficult for me to write. Today would have been my father's birthday, he would be turning 63. Every year my family would get together and celebrate his birthday in the most amazing way. We would dive the channel islands. All of us together, the people he loved, on a boat, for one awesome weekend. Every year we looked forward to this trip. It's a passion we all shared, so much that we called ourselves Ohana Scuba. Angela even made us t-shirts and sweatshirts.
Most years my sisters and I would all be in attendance on this trip. Some years, like this year, one of us would be unable to join. This year I couldn't make the trip. The majority of my family was on that boat. My beautiful, happy parents and my sisters. They were my first friends. My best friends. We were always known as the Q Girls, I was 2 of 4. Just a bunch of big kids who loved to good off and have fun together. We never grew out of that phase. In an instant, they're all gone.
I want to thank everyone for their condolences. I'm not yet ready to take phone calls or texts. I appreciate your understanding during this difficult time. Please know that I am surrounded by my family and lots of love. We're strong and we will get through this. I've found some peace in reading all of the wonderful, beautiful messages everyone has been leaving about my family.Thank you.
I cannot imagine the pain that Rosas is feeling, having lost three of her kids in such an awful tragedy. She seems to be keeping strong, and she also seems to have a good support system around her. I only hope the others who lost loved ones in this accident can find the same peace.