California boat captain jailed over fire that killed 34

The captain of a dive boat that caught fire and sank off the California coast in 2019, killing 34 people in one of the state's deadliest maritime disasters, has been sentenced to four years in prison for his conviction on a federal charge of seaman's manslaughter.

Jerry Boylan was found guilty by a US District Court jury in November on a single count of "misconduct or neglect of a ship officer" under a federal homicide statute dating from steamboat accidents of the early 1800s.

California-Boat Fire
Boat captain Jerry Boylan, right, has been jailed four years over the 2019 fire that killed 34. (AP PHOTO)

The felony conviction, capping a 10-day trial, had carried a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, according to Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the US Attorney's Office in Los Angeles.

Boylan was captain of the 75-foot dive boat Conception when the vessel went up in flames in the early morning hours of September 2, 2019, while anchored in Platt's Harbor near Santa Cruz Island, off the Santa Barbara coast, during a sport diving trip.