Metro East connection to deadly California dive boat fire

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MILLSTADT, Ill. – At least one of the people who is presumed dead after a boat went up in flames in California on Labor Day morning has ties to the St. Louis area.

Multiple media outlets are reporting that Neal Baltz and his longtime girlfriend Patricia Beitzinger were on the boat that caught fire.

Fox 2 has learned that Baltz grew up in the Millstadt area and graduated from Belleville West High School. The superintendent tells us he believes that Baltz graduated in 1995.

Neal and Patricia lived in the Phoenix area.

A Phoenix tv station is reporting that the Baltz family confirmed to them that Neal and Patricia were indeed on board the ship that went up in flames.

Baltz’s LinkedIn page says that he was a design engineer.

His family has many ties to the Millstadt area including his father John Baltz working in the banking industry.

People we talked with today who did not want to speak on camera were stunned and emotional to hear the tragic news.

The 75-foot commercial diving boat called Conception caught fire early on Monday morning off the coast of Santa Cruz Island in California.

Thirty-four people were sleeping at the time below deck.

Authorities believe all were killed—33 bodies have been recovered so far.

Investigators say at this point it`s unclear if the passengers woke up and tried to escape the flames or if they all perished in their sleep.

Five crew members, including the captain, were on the third floor of the boat when the flames erupted. They jumped into the water and were rescued.

We are also understanding from Phoenix media that Baltz’s younger brother was supposed to go on the trip as well but then canceled at the last minute.

Baltz’s father told a Phoenix TV station that Neal and Patricia went to Heaven doing something they loved together.

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