Authorities in Santa Barbara County confirmed Friday that an Anaheim man was among those who died in a horrific dive-boat fire that killed 34 people.
Justin Carroll Dignam, 58, was positively identified by Santa Barbara County sheriff’s officials during a Friday morning news conference. Dignam was the founder and CEO of Big Fish Employer Services, a payroll management company.
According to the Orange County Register, Big Fish Employer Services president Jeff Hill sent an email to the company’s clients on Tuesday informing them that Dignam was aboard the vessel when it caught fire and sank early Monday morning off the coast of Santa Barbara.
“With a broken heart, I will lead us vigilantly as we await confirmation from the authorities,” Hill wrote in the email, according to the Register.
That confirmation came Friday morning during a news conference in Santa Barbara.
The Register reported that Dignam, a married father of two, was a veteran water polo player, having played at the University of Richmond and coached at Iona College and Wesleyan University.
According to his biography on Big Fish website, Dignam worked for payroll company Automatic Data Processing for more than 17 years before starting his own company in 2003.
“He is also active on the athletic playing field, having coached baseball, soccer and basketball in Anaheim Hills and Orange,” according to his biography. “Current hobbies include scuba diving and competing in masters water polo.”
Only five people, all crew members, were able to escape the inferno that engulfed the dive boat Monday morning. Authorities said Friday morning the bodies of 33 of the 34 people who died have been recovered, but efforts were continuing to locate the remaining victim.