SANTA CRUZ, Calif. - The city of Santa Cruz has issued a statement in response to hearing that former employee and diver Kristy Finstad was among the missing after a boat fire in Southern California.
The City Manager's office issued the statement that reads:
"The City of Santa Cruz joins the nation in mourning the tragic fire that destroyed the dive boat Conception off of the Ventura Coast Monday morning.
Kristina Finstad, a former City of Santa Cruz employee, is one of those listed as missing. Kristina Finstad worked for the City of Santa Cruz's Water Department as a half-time employee from 2005-2015 while assisting with her family's dive business. Kristina worked in Water Resources, as part of a team responsible for watershed health and protection, as well as education programs. Kristina was a gifted interpreter of natural resources, and often led Department programs. In 2015, she left her work for the City to pursue the family business full time."
Santa Cruz Mayor Martine Watkins added, "The horrific incident is being felt deeply by our community. We are in disbelief at what has happened and our hearts go out the families of all of those who are waiting for news on their loved ones."
Finstad was the 41-year-old co-owner of Worldwide Diving Adventures was leading the scuba tour near Santa Cruz Island when the boat, Conception, went up in flames early Monday morning.
Finstad's brother, Brett Harmeling of Houston, said Finstad was among the dozens missing and presumed dead on Tuesday and shared a social media post thanking everyone for their "unconditional love and support during this incredibly tragic time.:
He also wrote, "No final word on my sister Kristy; however, it is likely she has transitioned to be with the good Lord."
Mayor Watkins says the tragedy on Labor Day is being felt deeply by the community, including staff members who worked with Finstad.
"My hope is that they're able to take care of themselves today if they're feeling impacted and knew her," said Watkins.
Finstad had done thousands of the dives, and that included hundreds in the Channel Islands. She and her husband had just returned from a sailing trip across the South Pacific.
Officials said there were 39 people on board the boat. Five crew members were rescued and 25 deaths have been confirmed, but their identities have not been released yet.