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Crew Member Killed in Dive Boat Fire Dreamed of 'Being a Pirate'

Friends, family remember Allie Kurtz
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 5, 2019 3:40 PM CDT
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Olivia Kurtz shows a picture of her and her sister Allie, who lost her life on the dive boat Conception, during at interview with The Associated Press on Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2019 in Santa Barbara, Calif.   (AP Photo/Christian Monterrosa)
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(Newser) – Allie Kurtz gave up a job in the movie industry to live her dream of working on the water, and when she landed a job as deckhand on a scuba diving boat, she was thrilled. She was on that boat, the Conception, when it caught fire and sank Monday off the Southern California coast, the only crew member among the 34 people trapped below deck as flames blocked their only way out, the AP reports. Friends from South America to Europe are mourning the 26-year-old, whose family said they will miss her lively, adventurous spirit but know she died doing what she loved most. "She wanted to go on the Conception so bad. She wanted to work that boat, and she was finally able to work that boat," her 20-year-old sister Olivia Kurtz told the AP. "She left this world doing something she absolutely loved. This was her dream, and she was finally able to fulfill this dream."

Olivia Kurtz said she believes the crew typically had one person sleep below deck to help passengers. Her father, Robert, said he doesn't blame the diving company that gave his daughter the chance to pursue her dreams. "She's still in the seas," he said during an interview Wednesday in Santa Barbara. He said he hopes to scatter her ashes in the ocean from an earlier scuba boat she worked on. "She passed away doing what she loved." Passengers who knew her have been sending messages to her family saying how much she touched their lives during their travels. She also did volunteer work to help wounded sea lions, her family said, joking that she loved the water so much that she had gills and fins. "Her love was just always, always the water," her grandmother tells the AP. "She would joke, 'I am going to be a pirate one day.'" After recently obtaining an Australian work visa with the idea of traveling there to work during California's scuba diving offseason, she texted her grandmother and told her she had finally achieved her dream "of being a pirate," her grandma says. "She had so much life in her. So much everything."

(Read more Conception dive boat stories.)

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