BEITZINGER, Patricia (1970-2019) and Neal Baltz (1977-2019), a couple from Arizona, died in the Labor Day fire aboard the dive boat Conception at Santa Cruz Island on September 2, 2019.
This Arizona couple was confirmed to be on board by a family member. Neal Baltz and his longtime girlfriend Patricia Beitzinger lived in the Ahwatukee Foothills. They were described as being adventurous and had taken many diving trips together around the world including the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean.
Baltz was an engineer who was studying winemakin. He was a founder of the Southwest Wine Center at Yavapai College and sponsored a VEN Scholarship for students. He was described as having the best dry humor.
Beitzinger was described as a ray of sunshine.
In the News~
September 3, 2019 [KTLA]: “Couple from Arizona. Patricia Beitzinger and Neal Baltz were identified by Phoenix, Arizona station KNXV as a couple presumed dead after taking part in the Labor Day weekend diving expedition. "They went to heaven doing something they loved together," John Baltz, Neal's father, told the TV station.”
September 3, 2019 [Thedenverchannel]: “Arizona couple was on California boat involved in deadly fire, family says. PHOENIX — Two Arizona residents were on a boat that caught fire, killing at least 20 people off the California coast early Monday morning. Baltz's family confirmed Scripps affiliate KNXV that the couple, Patricia Beitzinger and Neal Baltz, were aboard the ship at the time of the blaze. "They died doing something they loved together," said John Baltz, Neal's father. Beitzinger's family said they were not ready to comment at this time, and were still waiting on "official confirmation" from authorities. Law enforcement said in a press conference Tuesday that 20 passengers' bodies have been recovered so far. The Santa Barbara County Sheriff said that eleven of the confirmed passengers are women and nine are men. The U.S. Coast Guard said search efforts have been suspended and that they believe the remaining 14 passengers who have not been found are dead. Law enforcement has not yet formally released any identities of those involved, but say there are no other survivors from the incident.”
September 11, 2019[People]: “The couple, who lived in Phoenix, both loved the outdoors and taking trips together, Michael Pierce, the viticulture and enology director at Yavapai College, tells PEOPLE. Neal Baltz, an engineer, studied winemaking and was supposed to be back at class on Tuesday night to present about wines he had recently discovered in Washington State. “He had plans to stay with some of his friends after class, and they didn’t hear from him,” says Pierce. “That friend texted me and we saw the news article. That’s how we found out.” Pierce says that Baltz showed “a lot of dedication” by making the hour-and-a-half drive to their campus and had “quite the thirst for knowledge.” “He wanted to follow his passion,” he adds. “It’s hard work and it’s basically farming. We spend a lot of hours together and it’s outside in the sun. He always made sure that if we had tough days it was a positive atmosphere. He was always goofing around about something.” Patricia Beitzinger, meanwhile, “was always laughing at something goofy Neal was doing,” Pierce says. “They were a loving couple,” says Pierce. “Patricia was usually smiling. They were a terrific couple to be around.”