Dive liveaboard captain’s retrial bid overturned

Conception fire
The Conception fire (Ventura County Fire Department)

Jerry Boylan, captain of the California dive liveaboard Conception on which 34 people died when fire broke out onboard in 2019, has lost his bid to secure a retrial.

Boylan, 70, was convicted of the federal offence of seaman’s manslaughter through gross negligence in a jury trial last year, but sentencing was delayed pending the appeal. This maritime version of manslaughter is a pre-Civil War statute created to hold captains and crew accountable for disasters at sea.

US District Judge George Wu denied Boylan’s appeal for the case to be heard again on 22 April, leaving the captain facing the possibility of a maximum 10-year prison sentence.

Boylan was judged responsible for the worst disaster in California maritime history after it was found that he had failed to set up a roving patrol on the liveaboard overnight, as required, or to train his crew in procedures to follow in an emergency. Thirty-three guests and a crew-member who had been sleeping in a bunk-room below were trapped as the fire spread.

Boylan had been the first to abandon the blazing boat, with the prosecution commenting that he had shown “unpardonable cowardice”.

Lesser offence

According to a report by Courthouse News Service, Boylan’s request for a retrial was made on the grounds that the judge had allegedly given jurors erroneous instructions about another lesser offence of negligence in operating a vessel, and that former crew-member Brian Priddin, who had given evidence for the prosecution, was said to have lied in describing Boylan’s attitude towards onboard safety as lax.

Judge Wu dismissed both arguments. He conceded that it might have been better not to have included the lesser-offence instruction, which would have given the jury the option to convict Boylan of a misdemeanour, but said the instruction was “beside the point” and would have made no difference to the request for a retrial.

The judge also rejected the argument that Priddin had lied in claiming to have resigned from his position with fleet operator Truth Aquatics because of a perceived significant risk to guest safety.

Boylan had claimed that Priddin had quit because his sole concern was with Truth Aquatics’ waste-disposal methods. However, according to the judge the crew-member had indicated that he left the company as the result of a number of concerns, including the lack of a night-watch.

Boylan is now due to be sentenced on 2 May.

Also on Divernet: Guilty dive-boat captain showed ’unpardonable cowardice’, Conception fire: captain faces fresh charges, Blaze-boat captain pleads innocence, Killer liveaboard blaze began in rubbish bin

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@dekkerlundquist5938
#ASKMARK Hello Mark, while out diving recently I talked to an experienced diver who was diving with twins but did not have any manifold on them, i.e. each cylinder had a first stage with a primary and an SPG. One cylinder had the low pressure inflator for his BC. What are the pros and cons of a manifold setup versus independent twins?

#scuba #scubadiving #scubadiver
LINKS

Become a fan: https://www.scubadivermag.com/join
Gear Purchases: https://www.scubadivermag.com/affiliate/dive-gear
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Website: https://www.scubadivermag.com ➡️ Scuba Diving, Underwater Photography, Hints & Advice, Scuba Gear Reviews
Website: https://www.divernet.com ➡️ Scuba News, Underwater Photography, Hints & Advice, Travel Reports
Website: https://www.godivingshow.com ➡️ The Only Dive Show in the United Kingdom
Website: https://www.rorkmedia.com ➡️ For advertising within our brands
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