According to news reports four (4) fatalities have been reported and 29 people are missing this Labor Day morning after the dive boat “Conception”, which is almost 40 years old, caught fire. The boat called out for help with a mayday call coming in at about 03:15 am PST.
The Conception was located off the Northern side of Santa Cruz Island, known as a popular dive site.
There happened to be another vessel in the area that rescued five people moments before the Conception sank about 20 yards from Santa Cruz Island’s shore where the depth is about 65 ft. The members rescued were the boat’s crew members, not the people who leased the boat who were reportedly sleeping at the time of the fire.
I found it odd that this boat had its crew rescued and everyone else is missing. You know this boat, almost 15 years ago, was part of an incredible event.Exclusive LauraLoomer.us Witness
We discovered that the Conception was purchased in 1981 as a fishing boat by Glen Fritzler’s former business partner Roy Hauser who was the reason why they got into diving tours.
On March 23, 2005, according to police reports and news reports, a homeless man STOLE the 75 ft diving boat “Conception”. At the time of its theft, it had an estimated value of $1 MIL.
The idea of a homeless person stealing a boat so easily from the marina was unthinkable, yet the official account of the event says it happened. The homeless man named Donald Kelley, was arrested two days after the alleged theft on Friday, March 25, 2005. Apparently, he stole the boat and had beached it south of one of the most “secret” Air Force Base’s lighthouse – Vandenberg Air Force Base. The base itself handled the situation as a breach in security and canvassed the area with local police. Next to the abandoned stolen boat, authorities located wet clothing and footprints in the sand heading in the direction of Jalama Beach.
What’s incredible is that the homeless man was able to navigate the 75 ft boat that has a hull depth of 6 ft in Point Arguello, which is known for its horrific waters and lengthy history of shipwrecks. Not only that, but the boat was “parked” on the BEACH by the lighthouse.
To add to the bizarre story, the boat was reported stolen at 7 am on the morning of March 23, 2005, and at around 10 am they found it moving along the coastline North of Giovata. The security guard of the marina claimed to have seen a blue and white boat making erratic maneuvers about 1 am, but for some reason a distance – at most 2 hours away – was reached in 9 hours.
It was actually the U.S. Coast Guard that located the boat at around 10 a.m. by helicopter. Strangely enough, the most curious part of the story is not the theft in itself , but the incredible assertions that this homeless man drove the boat out of a VERY crowded marina that’s almost impossible to maneuver out of without causing severe damage if you aren’t familiar with the area and or the boat itself.
Albeit, the homeless guy sank another boat due to damaged caused, and damaged another two boats, but even the police officer interviewed said the person(s) who stole the boat had to know what they were looking for since the boat itself was berthed in a small area and had an odd way of starting the engine. Don Rowell, who was operating the “Truth” boat of the fleet made the following statements to www.ksby.com :
You or I wouldn’t know how to start this engine. It’s not like you pull a cord and it starts. You have to know how to start this. They knew enough to start the generator, and use the electronic shifters on the gear box, which are hard to understand if you don’t really know what you’re looking for .Don Rowell KSBY
Without much detail, the police made an arrest 48 hours later. They arrested a homeless man, Donald Kelley, aged 41 for stealing the boat. He was charged for the theft and damage to three boats, one of which sank (Slick Chick). According to KSBY’s archived news page, they found the homeless man with food items he stole from the galley, like mustard, about 1/4 mile away from where “Conception” was beached.
Once again, the Conception finds itself part of another odd event, and this time it seems like a tragedy with over 30 people missing and possibly dead.
The medical examiner is on the scene at the moment and one question we are asking is “WHO CHARTERED THE BOAT?” and why was ONLY the crew saved?
The boat sank 20 yards from the shore… that’s the distance from one end of a double garage to another – Did no one try to swim to shore? Sure it was deep, but out of 33 people assumed missing – NO ONE?
At the time of publication only four bodies have been found and 29 more are missing.
This story is developing.