Family and friends converged on Southern California to learn the fates of their loved ones after a commercial scuba boat erupted in flames off the coast near Santa Cruz Island on Labor Day. The bodies of 33 people who died in the tragedy have since been recovered and one person is still missing and presumed dead.
Among those who lost their lives were a 41-year-old marine biologist, a 25-year-old crew member who was dedicated to the Southern California scuba community and three sisters celebrating a birthday for their father, also presumed dead.
Here are their stories.
Diana Adamic, Steve Salika and Tia Salika
Adamic died on the scuba trip along with her husband, Steve Salika and his daughter, Tia, a student at Pacific Collegiate School, a charter school in Santa Cruz. Another student from the school, Berenice Felipe, also died on the trip.
“Obviously, our hearts are with these two PCS families, and we hope and pray that they are found safe,” wrote Maria C. Reitano, the head of the school. She said the school would have counselors available “who are trained to help support students, staff, parents, and our entire school community. This tragedy is sure to raise many emotions, concerns, and questions for our entire school, especially our students.”
Baltz died on the scuba trip with his girlfriend, Patricia Beitzinger, said Beitzinger’s niece, Hannah.
Hannah said in a Facebook message that her aunt and Baltz were perfect for each other.
Beitzinger died on the scuba trip with her boyfriend, Neal Baltz, said Beitzinger’s niece, Hannah.
“She’s one of the coolest people I ever met,” Hannah said in a Facebook message. “She was adventurous and brave and always living every day as full as she could, she was always going on these amazing trips around the world. And so goofy she has a great sense of humor and was always smiling and laughing. And Neal was the same way, they were perfect for each other and I considered him my uncle as well.”
Kendra Chan was on the boat with her father, R. Scott Chan, a physics teacher at American High School in Fremont. In a Facebook post, Kendra’s brother, Kevin, wrote: “Thanks for being my big sister, Kendra. I’ll miss you and your love for all things outdoors and underwater. Rest easy.”
Raymond Scott Chan
Raymond Scott Chan, a physics teacher in Northern California, was identified as one of the people killed in the boat fire off the coast of Santa Cruz island, according to the Fremont Unified School District. His daughter Kendra, a marine biologist in Southern California, also was aboard the Conception.
The school district tweeted, “We are saddened to report the passing of American High School Physics Teacher, Raymond (Scott) Chan, who was among the fatalities of this weekend’s boat fire off the coast of Santa Barbara. We send our condolences to Mr. Chan’s family and the American High School community.”
Berenice, a student at Pacific Collegiate School, a charter school in Santa Cruz, died on the scuba trip with fellow student Tia Salika and Salika’s parents.
Kristy Finstad, 41
Finstad was a diving enthusiast who was leading the dive trip as the co-owner of Worldwide Diving Adventures.
She ran the company with her husband, Dan Chua, who was leading another dive in Costa Rica when the boat Finstad was on caught fire.
Finstad’s brother Brett Harmeling of Houston asked for prayers in a Facebook post.
“Thank You ALL for your unconditional love and support during this incredibly tragic time,” he wrote. “My family and I truly appreciate it. “No final word on my sister Kristy; however, it is likely she has transitioned to be with the good Lord.”
Garcia, from Berkeley, worked for Apple. He was on the boat with his girlfriend, Yulia Krashennaya.
Nicole, Angela Rose, Evan and Michael Quitasol and FernisaSison
The Quitasol sisters were celebrating the birthday of their father Michael, who is also presumed dead, their mother Susana Rosas said on Facebook. Their stepmother, Fernisa Sison was also on board.
“It is with a broken heart … 3 of our daughters were on this boat,” she wrote on Facebook. “As of now they are still missing. My #1, Evanmichel Solano Quitasol, my #3, NicoleStorm Quitasol and my #4, Angela Rose Quitasol. My girls’ dad Michel Storm Quitasol and stepmom were also on the boat.”
Nicole Quitasol lived in San Diego and worked at Nicky Rottens Bar & Burger Joint in Coronado for the last four years, according to the restaurant.
“She was one of a kind. She was ahead of her time, for sure. An old soul that was just in love the outdoors, anything to do with her dog, peanut butter, anything to do with water, beaches, diving, paddle boarding — I mean, that was her life,” Nicky Rottens CFO Bryn Butolph told NBC7.
Guiney, a sales director and ocean enthusiast who was dedicated to the protection of sharks and other sea life, was hailed by friends as an outgoing figure who always had a smile.
“She was such an inspiration, a voice to help understand and protect sharks, and shared her pictures and stories as she traveled the world,” one friend wrote on Facebook. “She was endlessly energetic, optimistic and always had a smile to share. Just can’t believe it. What a tragedy for so many.”
Another wrote: “Her gentle and sweet nature made her a great companion … Marybeth was ‘good people.'”‘ Another added: “You were hysterical. You were real. I will always think about you and smile.”
Alexandra Kurtz, 25
Kurtz, the only Conception crew member among the dead, had fulfilled her dream by landing a job as a deckhand on the boat, her sister Olivia Kurtz told The Associated Press.
Family described Kurtz as an energetic go-getter who was passionate about scuba diving and lived life to the fullest.
“She loved it here,” her mother Cherie McDonough said. “She loved the boat. She loved diving.”
She also loved exploring nature in the ocean and had been embraced by Southern California’s tight-knit diving community.
McIlvain, according to his Facebook page, worked as a visual effects designer for Walt Disney Imagineering.
His wife, filmmaker Jasmine Lord, was not with him on the Conception dive boat. Her online posts indicated she was working over the weekend in Miami — in advance of Hurricane Dorian.
After receiving news of the deadly fire, McIlvain’s friends poured out their hearts online, calling him one of “the kindest, funniest people you’ll ever meet.”
“Anyone who knew Charles ‘Chuck’ McIlvain would know how full of life he was, how contagious his laugh and his smile was and what a warm soul he had,” another friend wrote.
Neighbors of the pair in Santa Monica said that Guiney would often go on dive trips with McIlvain and his wife. Of McIlvain, one neighbor told the station: “He’s the kind of guy who’s always happy — 8 o’clock in the morning, he’s happy. Comes home from work at 7, he’s happy.”
The Malibu Divers dive shop posted on its Facebook page: “All of us are devastated by the Conception dive boat tragedy. We’d like to honor Charles McIlvain and Marybeth Guiney by asking you to tell a story about a dive adventure or (anecdote) you had with them. Please share, I know it will help us all.”
Editor’s note: This video in this story has been removed as it incorrectly identified a victim.
Well… that’s one way for the Nicki Minaj Cardi B feud to come to an end.
Minaj took to social media Thursday and revealed to her fans that she would be retiring to start a family.
I’ve decided to retire & have my family. I know you guys are happy now. To my fans, keep reppin me, do it til da death of me, ❌ in the box- cuz ain’t nobody checkin me. ✅ Love you for LIFE ��♥️��
— Mrs. Petty (@NICKIMINAJ) September 5, 2019
The 36-year-old rapper changed her Twitter display name from “Ms. Minaj” to ” Mrs. Petty,” in August to reflect the last name of the 41-year-old Queens native and music executive Kenneth Petty that she had been dating and according to some reports has already married.
But Minaj only confirmed earlier this summer on her Beats1 radio show, “Queen Radio,” that she got a marriage license with Petty.
In recent months Minaj has been in the news more for an ongoing beef with fellow rap superstar Cardi B. The two came to blows at a New York Fashion Week party last year.
Minaj, whose real name is Onika Tanya Maraj, is a Trinidadian-born American who has produced four studio albums in the last decade. She’s been nominated for 10 Grammy awards since 2010, including a nomination for Best Rap Album for Pink Friday in 2011.
A man who lost his wife in a mass shooting that killed nearly two dozen people in El Paso, Texas, last week is inviting the public to celebrate her life as he has no other family in town, a funeral home said Tuesday.
Margie Reckard, 63, was among 22 people killed Aug. 3 in the Walmart attack, which authorities say was carried out by a 21-year-old Allen man who wanted to target people of Mexican descent, NBC News reported.
Her husband, Antonio Basco, is inviting anyone to attend the service Friday at Perches Funeral Home, the funeral home said in a statement. Basco told KFOX-TV of El Paso days after the shooting that he and Reckard have been together for 22 years.
“When I met her, she was an angel, and she still is,” Basco said. “I was supposed to be the strong one, but I found out I’m the weak one, and she’s going to be missed a lot.”
A family says a fire that started as a trash fire behind their home in South Los Angeles home on Thursday could have been prevented. A huge plume of black smoke billowed up and over neighboring homes in an alley between Woodlawn Avenue and Wall Street.
The family has complained about the homeless living behind their house since they moved in two months ago. The family says they saw a homeless man running from the area when the fire started. Now they’re upset that the city did not respond to their complaints or phone calls.
Diana Perez, 14, says her bedroom suffered the most damage.
“My mom and my tia, they’ve been calling to help us move them,” she said. “They never listen. But I lost everything. I lost my bed where I slept, my school stuff, everything. And they didn’t listen to us.”
The fire was put out in 15 minutes. No one was injured.
An young boy who was shot in Watts Wednesday is in stable condition, the Los Angeles Police Department said.
The shooting occurred around 7:40 p.m. near the intersection of 109th Street and Wilmington Avenue, the LAPD said.
The boy, 7-year-old Joseph Mancilla, was struck by gunfire while playing with a group of kids in a yard, according to his family. The boy was shot in the leg, his family said. Los Angeles police said the boy was in stable condition, and the boy’s family also said he is doing OK at the hospital.
The boy’s sister said she rushed the group of children playing in the yard inside when she saw a man with a “huge gun.”
“He didn’t even tell us he was shot; he was so scared,” Vanessa Sanchez, the victim’s sister, said.
At least one gun was found at the scene, police said.
A large police response was visible at the scene of the shooting, and Newschopper4 Bravo was able to see what appeared to be a gun on a sidewalk near the intersection of 109th Street and Wilmington Avenue.
The LAPD said an investigation was ongoing and a perimeter was set up in the area, as the search was ongoing for the shooter or shooters.
Los Angeles police asked for the public’s assistance in identifying the person or persons that may have been involved in the shooting.
After eight films and more than $15 billion dollars earned worldwide, The “Fast and Furious” franchise has its first stand alone film in “Hobbs & Shaw.” We spoke with the cast at the premiere in Hollywood, who tell us the film focuses on family, action and fun.
“We doubled down on the comedy for this one,” star Jason Statham said. He plays Deckard Shaw, a former British military elite operative. He begrudgingly partners with Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) a loyal agent of America’s Diplomatic Security Service (DSS). The two have history, very entertaining history, which we saw in “The Fate of the Furious.” Audiences and critics loved their chemistry so much in that film that it sparked the idea to put them together in their own stand alone piece.
Now Hobbs and Shaw have to work together along with Shaw’s sister Hattie (Vanessa Kirby) to stop cyber genetically enhanced bad guy Brixton Lorr played by Idris Elba. He tells us this character was immensely fun to play.
“He was a complex character to play,” Elba said. “He’s part man, part machine and he’s got a bit of an ego.”
Writer/Producer Chris Morgan says he’s definitely leaving the door open for the possibility of another “Hobbs & Shaw” film. What exactly that will be remains to be seen.
The “Fast and the Furious” presents “Hobbs & Shaw” opens nationwide August 2. It was Directed by David Leitch (“Deadpool 2,” “Atomic Blonde”) and stars Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Idris Elba, Vanessa Kirby and Helen Mirren.
After three coyote attacks on pets in a single night, a San Dimas family spoke out about the loss of its dog, which was killed by a coyote inside the family’s home, in the hopes that it will serve as a warning to other pet owners in the area.
The Vanthiel family says that it had Noah, a Yorkie, for 8 years, and it considered the pooch more like family than a pet. So, the mourning family decided to put up flyers to warn everyone in the neighborhood and prevent further heartache.
Ciara Ullo, a member of the family, says, “He brought us happiness. People don’t realize, but pets are like children to us.”
“Noah was my boy, we did everything together,” Jeffrey Vanthiel, another member of the family mouring the dog’s death, says.
The Vanthiel family made the traumatic discovery Thursday night, when it found part of Noah’s remains on the floor.
“My husband walked in the room and started screaming, so we knew something horrible had happened,” Naisi Vanthiel says.
The family says it regularly left a locked 5-inch gap in their sliding glass doors at the home so that their dogs could get to the backyard. They believe that gap is how the coyote got into the home.
“There was forced hair on both sides, where that animal squeezed in through to get my little boy,” Jeffrey Vanthiel says.
The family says its other dog, 10-month-old Niko, was found alone and shivering inside the home.
“What puts us at peace is that we feel like he was protecting Niko,” Ullo says.
Jeffrey Vanthiel says, “[Noah] scarified himself for [Niko].”
More of Noah’s remains and his collar were found on the other side of their complex, where a neighbor spotted the coyote.
That night, two other dogs were attacked in the same community, with one of the other dogs also killed.
The family veterinarian told the Vanthiels that it’s “pup season” for coyotes.
“He said this is the time that they are having pups and looking for food. They need to feed their babies,” Naisi Vanthiel says.
The Vanthiels reported the incident to Animal Control, but they hope the loss of their companion will be a message and a warning for other pet owners.
Ullo says, “I want his passing to just help other people and save other fur babies.”
Ullo emotionally adds, “This is his purpose. We want everyone to be aware that it could happen to them because we never ever had that cross our mind.”
A guilty verdict was handed down Monday in the trial of a Southern California man charged with killing a family of four and burying their bodies in the desert.
In a case that puzzled investigators for years after the family members disappeared in 2010, Charles “Chase” Merritt was found guilty on four counts of murder. The verdict reached Friday was read Monday.
Merritt’s business associate Joseph McStay, McStay’s wife Summer and the couple’s 3- and 4-year-old sons vanished from their San Diego County home in 2010. Three years later, their bodies were found in shallow graves more than 100 miles away in the high desert north of Los Angeles.
Merritt was arrested in 2014. Authorities said they traced his cellphone to the gravesite area and to a call seeking to close McStay’s online bookkeeping account.
Prosecutors said they will seek the death penalty.
Merritt allegedly killed the McStays because he was embezzling thousands of dollars from Joseph McStay’s custom fountain business, prosecutors said.
The trial included emotional testimony from the mother of Joseph McStay. Susan Blake told jurors about the moment she learned from another son that her family members had been killed.
“Obviously, the hardest thing, my son had to tell me that they found them in the desert,” Blake said in court.
Blake also said that Merritt was the first to tell her that no one could contact Joseph McStay following the family’s disappearance. She said during the months following the disappearance, Merritt often tried to get money from Joseph McStay’s business account to complete jobs.
A little girl was hit in the head with a glass bottle at random while walking to school in Corona and had to undergo surgery, her family said Saturday.
Karla Zosayas, a 5-year-old, was walking to school with a family member near Lincoln Avenue and Bayfield Drive when the bottle suddenly hit her, family said. Corona police confirmed they were searching for the SUV after the random incident.
It isn’t immediately clear if the person who threw it from the SUV did so on purpose.
Karla had to undergo surgery, and was responding well, her family said. Initially her family said they were worried she may be badly hurt, but said she was doing much better Saturday evening.
The sad news is, Karla was about to graduate from kindergarten Monday, but would have to miss her big day due to the incident.
Corona police were looking for a silver or gray SUV, possibly a Chevy Tahoe, with damage on the driver’s side front corner.
The SUV was last seen heading south on Lincoln Avenue before turning onto Railroad Street, then onto Smith Avenue.
Anyone with information on the incident or the SUV is asked to call Corona Police Department’s Tip Line at (951) 817-5837.