Bay Area dive instructor says tragedy off Santa Cruz Island devastated diving community

GILROY, Calif. (KGO) -- Mauricio Munoz, a Gilroy business owner, has been a diver for 40 years and an instructor for 15 years. He frequently takes groups to dive sites all over California, including Channel Islands National Park, site of Monday's dive boat fire. Munoz has been aboard the 75 ft Conception vessel at least five to six times.

As far as he knows, it should've only taken divers in the sleeping quarters seconds to exit the boat.

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"The only thought I had which is that that fire had to have happened so fast that it didn't give any chance to the people who were sleeping chance to escape."

Munoz says he remembers that the two exits -- a set of stairs and an escape hatch were very easy to access and also, well lighted at night. He also recalls that the staff and crew he worked with were beyond professional with top-notch safety standards, including one of its longest-running captains, who he called, "as good as they get."

Munoz, added that having been on the vessel, "every single time they conducted a very professional orientation at the beginning of the trip."

Munoz who is part of a close-knit diving community across the country says his phone has been ringing off the hook with messages from other divers, devastated by what happened.

"I can't remember a single tragic event that comes even close to the loss of more than 30 scuba divers in a single incident. I think this is an event of global proportions."
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