(NationalUSNews.com) — A jury found the captain of a diving boat guilty of the deaths of 34 different people, explicitly finding that he committed misconduct or negligence while serving as the boat’s captain. Although Captain Jerry Nehl Boylan is considered responsible for the tragic deaths, he won’t spend more than ten years in prison for the maritime tragedy.
The colloquial title for the charge against Boylan is “seaman’s manslaughter,” which refers to a situation in which one person causes the deaths of others at sea through gross negligence or misconduct. The circumstances surrounding Boylan’s case stem from a fire in 2019 that occurred on the boat captained by Boylan, called the Conception. The fire occurred on Labor Day and caused the Conception’s sinking. After the fire started, it spread throughout the boat, including the quarters below deck, which housed the passengers. Boyland was the first person to abandon the Conception after the fire began, prompting authorities to charge him for failing his responsibilities as the ship’s captain.
According to prosecutors, Boyland didn’t attempt to rescue any passengers trapped on the flaming boat despite not sustaining any injuries during his initial escape from the watercraft. Prosecutors claim Boylan failed to use the boat’s intercom to inform passengers about the fire and failed to conduct any fire drills.
Following the incident, the National Transportation Safety Board announced that Boylan caused the deadly fire, but the specific cause is unknown. The jury overseeing Boylan’s case found him guilty of the deaths of the ship’s passengers, making Boylan responsible for the worst maritime tragedy since the 19th century and the most lethal boat incident since the late 1980s. Despite the National Transportation Safety Board finding Boylan accountable for the fire, Boylan’s attorney claimed the boat’s owner was responsible for the maritime tragedy.
Boylan now faces a sentencing hearing to determine the criminal consequences for the disgraced captain. If the judge overseeing the case imposes the maximum sentence against Boylan, the former captain will spend up to ten years in prison for the tragedy. Boylan is currently free on bond and could avoid prison time entirely if the judge is lenient in his sentencing. The tragic incident is the deadliest United States boat-related disaster in the 20th century.
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