Rapid DNA Identification: Conception Boat Fire

Tuesday September 15th, 2020 // 11:20 am - 11:50 am

In the early morning hours of September 2, 2019, a fire started in Santa Barbara County, just off the coast of Santa Cruz Island, on the Conception Dive boat with 39 passengers and crew on board. Five crew members were rescued and the remaining crew member and passengers located below deck when the fire started were unaccounted for and presumed deceased. Search and rescue operations quickly turned to search and recovery efforts as the first set of victims were recovered. Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office requested assistance from Sacramento County Coroner’s Office in the form of identification via Rapid DNA.


On September 2, 2019, a Deputy Coroner and the Coroner drove down to Santa Barbara County with a Rapid DNA instrument and supplies to assist with identification. All 34 victims were recovered in 10 days’ time. Those same victims were identified by Rapid DNA in the same time frame with the final victim located and also identified on Day 10. All DNA processing of human remains and familial reference samples was performed by a single operator, and DNA results were obtained the same day samples were made available for testing. This presentation outlines the identification process during this ten day period and demonstrates that Rapid DNA can be used routinely as the primary identification modality in mass casualty events.


Private: Kimberly Gin

Coroner, Sacramento County Coroner's Office

Kim Gin has worked for the County of Sacramento for twenty years. She started with the County as a Probation Officer and transferred after one year to the Coroner’s Office as a death investigator. She was promoted to Supervising Deputy Coroner in 2012 and then the Coroner in 2014. She has investigated many different kinds of deaths during her career.

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