Home News Apple confirms two employees among dead in dive boat fire – SF Gate

Apple confirms two employees among dead in dive boat fire – SF Gate

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A family of three, a friend and a coworker at Apple are among the 34 people presumed dead after a dive boat went up in flames early Monday near an island off the Southern California coast.

Steve Salika, a senior manager at Apple, was on the Conception with his wife, Diana Adamic, and their daughter Tia. Salika met his wife at Apple, according to a statement from the company.

Tia was reportedly celebrating her 17th birthday on the trip, and the family brought along Tia’s classmate, Berenice Felipe. Both were students at Pacific Collegiate School in Santa Cruz, according to NBC news.

“Steve was a 30-year Apple veteran whose energy and enthusiasm touched so many people across our company throughout his career,” said Deirdre O’Brien, a senior vice president of retail and people at Apple.


Apple also confirmed employee Dan Garcia was on the Conception. O’Brien said he was “as passionate about his job at Apple as he was about his love of diving.”

ALSO: Fremont high school physics teacher and his daughter among victims in boat fire

The Conception was anchored in Platt’s Harbor off Santa Cruz Island when it became fully engulfed in flames as 30 passengers slept below deck.

“You couldn’t ask for a worse situation,” Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said at a Monday news conference.

High school students, a science teacher and his daughter, an adventurous marine biologist and a family of five celebrating a birthday are among the victims of a fire that tore through a scuba diving boat off Southern California’s coast, trapping dozens of sleeping people below deck. Authorities said Wednesday the bodies of 33 of the 34 presumed dead had been recovered.

The new count of confirmed deaths came after officials recovered 13 bodies on Tuesday, said Coast Guard Lt. Zach Farrell, a spokesman for the inter-agency joint information center in Santa Barbara representing local, county, state and federal officials involved in the case.

Five crew members, including the captain, managed to escape after Monday’s pre-dawn fire that engulfed the boat named Conception as the victims slept below decks near the island of Santa Cruz during a three-day scuba diving excursion. The vessel eventually sank and overturned, making the recovery of bodies challenging.

Flames moved so quickly through the 75-foot (23-meter) vessel that it blocked a narrow stairway and an escape hatch leading to the upper decks, giving those below virtually no chance of escaping, authorities said.


DNA will be needed to identify the victims. Authorities will use the same rapid analysis tool that identified victims of the deadly wildfire that devastated the Northern California town of Paradise last year, Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Amy Graff is a digital reporter with SFGATE. Email her story tips at agraff@sfgate.com.

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