Conservation fund honors Los Altos victims of dive boat disaster

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Courtesy of Vicki Moore
Kendra Chan participates in a diving exercise. Kendra and Scott Chan loved scuba diving in the kelp forests off California’s coast. The two perished last year when a dive boat they were on caught fire and sank.

Scott and Kendra Chan were on a trip last September doing one of their favorite things, scuba diving in the kelp forests off California’s coast, when the boat they were on caught fire and sank.

The father and daughter were among the 34 people killed when a fire broke out on the dive boat Conception in the early morning hours of Sept. 2, 2019. Now, a year later, Los Altos resident Vicki Moore, Scott’s wife and Kendra’s mother, has set up and donated to a memorial fund supporting The Nature Conservancy’s kelp conservation efforts. Creating the fund combined Scott and Kendra’s love of diving and marine life with the importance of kelp forest restoration, Moore said.
“I realized that it was exactly the kind of thing that Scott and Kendra and myself would feel is extremely important, because the kelp forests provide a critical habitat for a large portion of coastal life in California,” Moore said.

Kendra and Scott would go diving in the kelp forests multiple times a year, and Moore herself had been diving there dozens of times before her children were born. Both Kendra and Scott had a passion for the natural world and a sense of adventure, Moore said.

Kendra graduated from Mountain View High School in 2011 and earned a bachelor’s degree in evolution, ecology and biodiversity from UC Davis. She worked at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, focusing on protecting endangered flora and fauna.

Impactful lives

Since Kendra’s death, Moore said she’s realized the full impact that her daughter had on those around her. Kendra’s friends have recounted to Moore how much effort she put into staying in touch, and Moore said it has been “mind-blowing” to hear how much her daughter’s co-workers respected her.

“She was really beloved, and to say that her passing was impactful to her friends and co-workers is a gross understatement,” Moore said.

Scott changed careers over a decade ago, transitioning from hardware engineer to high school physics and engineering teacher. He was starting his third year at American High School in Fremont last fall.

“He put his all into teaching and just really dedicated himself to the art of teaching … and connecting with his students,” Moore said.

Scott had a love of adventure, Moore added, and last summer spent six weeks as a volunteer diver off the coast of East Timor, surveying coral reefs.

“They lived full lives,” she said. “They lived truly impactful lives and they made their mark.”

In honor of the first anniversary of the boat fire, family and friends of the victims gathered earlier this month in Santa Barbara. They held a candlelight vigil in the early-morning hours of Sept. 2 and the next morning gathered at the harbor to unveil a memorial for the victims.

A group then sailed out to the spot the boat sank off Santa Cruz Island, joined by various agencies, including the National Park Service and theU.S. Coast Guard. A group of divers representing the families of the victims dove to an underwater memorial, roughly 54 feet below the surface.

“It was a very important and very cathartic experience,” Moore said. “And I definitely feel like I’ve built a much larger community of friends and people who understand.”
As she reflects on the lives of her husband and daughter, Moore said she remembers them as people “full of adventure, purpose (and) brilliance.”

“I am incredibly grateful for their time here on Earth,” Moore said. “I miss them every single day and I always will.”

To donate and for more information on the memorial fund, call Lindsay Hower at (703) 862-2819 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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