Singaporean diver Tan Wei confirmed to be among the 34 California boat blaze victims

Singaporean diver Tan Wei confirmed to be among the 34 California boat blaze victims

Singaporean Tan Wei died aboard the Conception dive boat
Singaporean Tan Wei was among the 34 victims who died aboard the Conception dive boat. (Photo: Family)

SINGAPORE: Singaporean diver Ms Tan Wei has been confirmed as one of the 34 victims who died aboard a boat that caught fire and sank off the coast of California, her family told CNA on Friday (Sep 6).

Dive boat Conception sank off Santa Cruz Island after a blaze erupted at about 3.15am local time on Monday. Authorities confirmed that the bodies of 33 victims have so far been recovered, with one still missing.

Singaporeans Tan Wei, 26, and Dr Sunil Singh Sandhu, 46, were listed on the passenger manifest of the Conception.

On Friday, Tan Wei’s older sister Cheerin said DNA tests confirmed that one of the bodies was that of her younger sister. 

Her father is flying out to Los Angeles to be with Cheerin’s older brother Sejay to make arrangements for Tan Wei's cremation, which is set to take place in Santa Barbara on Saturday.

“We feel relieved that she’s finally coming home,” Cheerin told CNA.

“My father will catch a flight to Los Angeles to be with my brother and help pack up her belongings in Santa Barbara.

“And my brother will accompany her back to Singapore. We have decided to place her (remains) in Mandai.”

Tan Wei’s friends in the US will fly over to Santa Barbara for a memorial on Friday, she added.

READ: 'A little bright star': Singaporean caught in California boat blaze was avid diver

Cheerin had announced the death of her younger sister in a Facebook post on Thursday.

She wrote: "We sincerely thank all relatives and friends for your love and concern as we get through this difficult phase.

"It hurts, it will always hurt, but we will move on."


Cheerin said on Thursday her sister was “the most active one in the family”, and had got her diving licence when she was 17 years old.

Tan Wei grew up in Singapore and moved to the US in 2012, where she studied chemical engineering at the University of Michigan.

After graduation, she worked as a consultant for two years, before doing her master’s degree at UC Berkeley. 

In June, Tan Wei moved to Santa Barbara upon graduation and started working as a data scientist.

An avid diver, she was looking forward to exploring the Santa Barbara area, Cheerin said.

“She really enjoys outdoor sports so it’s at least comforting to know that she was doing something she loved in the last few moments of her life," her sister added.

“She’s a very, very sweet girl who’s like a little bright star among her friends, bursting with energy and joy.”

The other Singaporean aboard the Conception was Dr Singh, a research scientist with a PhD in electrical engineering from Stanford University.

He picked up scuba diving two months ago, reported The New Paper (TNP).

Dr Sunil Singh Sandhu
Singaporean research scientist Dr Sunil Singh Sandhu, 46, is feared dead after a boat that he was on caught fire off the coast of California. (Photo: Facebook/Sunil Sandhu)

“My son had a beautiful character. He was always smiling and never short-tempered. That is how I will always remember him," his father Sojit Singh told TNP.

Authorities have since revealed more details about the blaze.

A 75-foot (23-meter) vessel burns during a rescue operation off Santa Cruz Island
The Conception diving boat burns during a rescue operation off Santa Cruz Island in California, US, on Sep 2, 2019. (Photo: Santa Barbara County Fire Department/Handout via Reuters)

The 34 victims were trapped below deck in a bunk room that was engulfed in flames. The five surviving crew members said the fire prevented them from climbing down a narrow ladder into the bunk room or gaining access through a window.

Among the other victims were a family of five, a teacher and his daughter, and a diving instructor and marine biologist. 

None of the names of the dead, who ranged in age from 17 to 60, has been publicly released by authorities.

The boat's owner, Truth Aquatics, has suspended dive expeditions on two other boats while the incident is investigated, the National Transportation Safety Board said.

Source: CNA/Agencies/mi(rw)