The only survivors of the accident, the captain and four crew members, were on deck when the flames erupted shortly after 3 a.m. Pacific time and were able to escape in an inflatable life boat, investigators said.
Though the cause of the fire is unknown, the scope of Monday’s devastation has left industry experts and officials baffled at how a respected boat operator lost an entire excursion of people inside the hull of a ship outfitted with safety systems intended to protect any such vessel.
Pilot David Lesh, a 34-year-old globe-trotting skier and the founder of Colorado-based outerwear company Virtika, had embarked on the flight Tuesday over Half Moon Bay, south of San Francisco. He recorded dramatic videos as he and his passenger treaded water in the chilly ocean awaiting rescue.
Under the judge's final order, California couple Alva and Alberta Pilliod would receive roughly $17 million in compensatory and $69 million in punitive damages, down from $55 million and $2 billion, respectively.