Photo provided by the Chan family
On Monday, September 2, a Southern California boat fire killed 34 people. Beloved Fremont educator Raymond (Scott) Chan, an American High physics teacher, along with his 26 year old daughter were among those who perished in the fire. On Labor Day weekend, Mr. Chan and 32 other divers embarked on what they thought would be a normal diving trip. It ended as one of the worst maritime disasters in modern California history. While on the excursion, the lower floor of the Conception, where the passengers were sleeping, caught on fire. The crew was able to get out in time because they were sleeping in the top area. Experts say that a faulty electrical system in combination with the salty water may have been the cause of the fire. One crew member broke his leg jumping from the top floor onto the deck and is now suing the owners of the Conception for operating an unsafe vessel with an untrained crew.
Everyone knows that a death can shake a community, but how is this affecting American High School? Marissa Leonarduzzi, a science teacher at American High, spoke with me following the incident. “There has been a definite shift in school morale the week of the accident as people showed their sadness for his loss,” she said. “It has been tough knowing we lost an amazing teacher and person who has touched the lives of many.” Atharv Gupta, a student at American High, said “although I didn’t personally know him it was obvious something was wrong around school. When I asked around and found out that a teacher had died, it made me sad even though I didn’t know him.”
Chan graduated from Stanford with a degree in electrical engineering. He then worked as an electrical engineer in Silicon Valley for 20 years until he discovered his love for teaching. He had worked as an AP Physics teacher for the past 3 years. In a quote from his Linkedin page he ascribes his success as a teacher to his “passion and wealth of real-world experience.”
Mr. Chan has touched the lives of many students and staff that worked alongside him. He will be missed by all who knew him. Mourners have been setting up a memorial outside Truth Aquatics in the Santa Barbara harbor to pay their respects.