A Los Angeles federal judge threw out an indictment Friday charging a dive boat captain with manslaughter in the deaths of 34 people in a 2019 fire aboard a vessel anchored off the Southern California coast.
The ruling came on the third anniversary of one of the deadliest maritime disasters in recent U.S. history as the Conception went down in flames Sept. 2, 2019, near an island off the coast of Santa Barbara. All 33 passengers and a crew member who were trapped in a bunk room below deck died.
Captain Jerry Boylan, 68, failed to follow safety rules, federal prosecutors said. He was accused of “misconduct, negligence and inattention” by failing to train his crew, conduct fire drills and have a roving night watchman on the boat when the fire ignited.
But the indictment failed to specify that Boylan acted with gross negligence, which U.S. District Judge George Wu said was a required element to prove the crime of seaman’s manslaughter and must be listed in the indictment.
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