SANTA BARBARA, Calif. (AP) — Authorities served search warrants Sunday at the Southern California company that owned the scuba diving boat that caught fire and killed 34 people last week.
Agents with the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and other agencies searched Truth Aquatics’ offices in Santa Barbara and the company’s two remaining boats, Santa Barbara County sheriff’s Lt. Erik Raney said.
The warrants served shortly after 9 a.m. are part of the ongoing investigation into the tragedy to determine whether any crimes were committed, he said. The office was ringed in red “crime scene” tape as more than a dozen agents took photos and carried out boxes.
Thirty-four people died when the Conception burned and sank before dawn on Sept. 2. They were sleeping in a cramped bunkroom below the main deck and their escape routes were blocked by fire.
The bodies of all but one victim have been recovered. The search for the final body was suspended this weekend because of strong winds and rough seas, Raney said.
“The dive teams are going to get together Monday to develop a plan. We’re hoping they’re back in the water on Tuesday,” he said Sunday.
For a judge to approve warrants, law enforcement must spell out the probability a crime was committed. Raney declined to comment on what evidence was disclosed to obtain the warrants, saying only that they are “a pretty standard” part of the investigation to determine whether crimes occurred.
Coast Guard records show the Conception passed its two most recent inspections with no safety violations. Previous customers said Truth Aquatics and the captains of its three boats were very safety conscious.