Authorities in Southern California on Sunday searched the offices of Truth Aquatics Inc., the company that owned the Conception boat, where 34 people died in a devastating fire last week. The company’s two remaining boats were also searched, Santa Barbara County sheriff’s Lt. Erik Raney said. The searches were conducted under warrants approved by a judge; in order for a warrant to be approved, the judge needs to be convinced by law enforcement of the probability that a crime was committed. Raney has not disclosed what evidence was presented to obtain the warrants, stating only that the step was routine in such investigations.
The Conception passed its two most recent inspections, according to Coast Guard records, leading to speculation that the standards are insufficient. Truth Aquatics has filed a lawsuit under a pre-Civil War provision of maritime law, also used by owners of the Titanic, that asserts the company is not liable for damages because the boat was deemed seaworthy. The victims were asleep when the fire broke out, and their escape routes were blocked by fire. The investigation is reportedly looking at how electronics were stored and charged on the boat, as well as the overall design of the vessel.