On September 5th, 2019

California DOJ Criminalists Use Rapid DNA Analysis to Identify Victims in Conception Boat Tragedy

SANTA BARBARA – On September 3, 2019, Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown announced that a special team of criminalists from the California Department of Justice is lending its expertise with a rapid DNA tool to assist with identifying the badly burned remains of 34 people killed when fire raced through the scuba diving boat they were sleeping in,  in the middle of the night on Labor Day.

The rapid DNA analysis was used last fall to identify as many as 85 people who died in the Camp fire in Butte County.  It is a process that requires a victim’s sibling, child, or parent to provide a swab of saliva to be compared with DNA of victims.

“At a tragic time like this, and with so many victims, this help from DOJ criminalists is invaluable,” said California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) President Alan Barcelona.  “Our hearts go out to the family and friends of those who died so tragically.  We also thank the criminalists who are working with the Santa Barbara County Coroner’s Bureau to identify victims as quickly as possible.”

The fire broke out aboard the Conception scuba diving boat off the north shore of Santa Cruz Island in Santa Barbara County at 3:30 in the morning, trapping 33 passengers and a crew member.  The Conception, a commercial diving boat, sank to the bottom of the ocean with victims on board.

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