A family of five from Stockton were among the 34 people killed when the dive boat Conception caught fire off the Southern California coast on Monday.
Michael Quitasol, his daughters Angela, Nicole and Evan Quitasol, and their stepmother Fernisa Sison were together to celebrate Michael’s birthday, which would have been Wednesday. They were all avid and experienced scuba divers.
Michael Quitasol and Fernisa Sison were both nurses at Kaiser Permanente. Angela Quitasol was a science teacher at Sierra Middle School in Stockton, and Nicole Quitasol worked in Coronado. Evan Quitasol was a nurse at St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Stockton, where her father and stepmother previously worked.
According to a statement from the St. Joseph’s Medical Center administration, a prayer gathering was held at the hospital chapel to comfort and support their hospital family.
“We were extremely saddened to learn the tragic news that one of our nurses was on aboard the Conception,” the statement reads. “Our hearts go out to all the families and loved ones of those on board.”
Their cousin, Julissa Garcia, says that the mother of the three daughters, Susana Rosas, has gone to Southern California following the fire. Garcia said that she and other family members are in shock.
“Devastating and heartbreaking, and I’m still a little unbelief, unreal,” Garcia said. “I kept following the story on TV, and who would have ever known that it was my family that were on the boat. I wasn’t aware they were going to celebrate their dad’s birthday.”
Rosas had four daughters, but one did not go on the trip, according to Garcia.
“Picture her [Rosas’] life without them,” Garcia said. “They were so close. They did so many things together — roller derby, they went out and had wine together. They spent tons of time together. They were always on vacation together.”
A fundraiser for the family is being held Friday and Saturday at the Mexican Heritage Center in Stockton.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.