Five members of same family feared dead in California dive boat tragedy

Posted at 10:48 PM, Sep 03, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-04 00:48:43-04

STOCKTON, Calif. – Five members of the same family are among the 34 people feared dead after a dive boat caught fire and sank off Santa Cruz Island early Monday.

Dominic Selga said his mother, Fernisa Sison; his stepfather, Michael Quitasol; and three of his four stepsisters – Evan, Nicole and Angela Quitasol – were on board the Conception.

"Personally, I’ve been holding onto that 1% despite everything that is against it and I already know in my heart that it’s not there but ... " Selga told KTXL.

Selga and his sister, Nisa Shinagawa, said their whole family had become scuba certified, often taking family scuba trips together because their stepdad Mike had always enjoyed the ocean.

“It was always a dream of Michael’s to get back into scuba diving and when him and my mom got together they wanted to start doing more things in their lives for themselves,” Shinagawa said.

They said every year Mike and Fernisa went on the Conception out to the Channel Islands National Park.

“He’s been on that boat multiple times,” Selga said. “We’ve been on that boat.”

Often, their kids would join them.

“(It was) something that brought our family in a little bit closer being a mixed family," Selga said.

For years, Mike and Fernisa worked as nurses at St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Stockton. But recently, the couple began working for Kaiser hospitals in Stockton, Modesto and Manteca.

Mike’s daughter Evan had followed in their footsteps, working at St. Joseph’s.

While Nicole lived in San Diego, her sister Angela returned to Sierra Middle School in Stockton, where she was once a student, teaching science for the past four years according to the district.

“I would never think that that would happen ... like on a boat that was so well known,” Selga said.

Mike is survived by a fourth daughter who lives in San Diego. Fernisa has two young grandchildren who Selga said still don’t know what had.

“They’re 5 and 3 (years old) and every day they ask for their grandma and grandpa,” he said. “And that’s the thing that I fear the most is just telling them. I don’t even know what to tell them.”