Brother of California boat fire victim speaks out on family’s heartbreak

September 11, 2019 0 By Stanley Isaacs


TO WAIT. THANK YOU IN L.A. TODAY.>>Sandra: OUR NEXT GUEST IS THE BROTHER OF CHRISTIE FINSTAD THE DIVING INSTRUCTOR ON THE CONCEPTION. JOINING US NOW IS BRET HARMELING. THANK YOU FOR BEING HERE THIS MORNING. SO SORRY FOR YOUR LOSS.>>THANK YOU.>>Sandra: HOW ARE YOU AND YOUR FAMILY DOING THIS MORNING?>>SO WE’RE DOING GOOD. WE’RE DOING AS GOOD AS WE CAN ACTUALLY AND PROCESSING THROUGH THIS TRAGEDY. JUST ONE MOMENT BY MOMENT. BROUGHT US CLOSE TOGETHER AS THE FAMILY AND WE’RE JUST NAVIGATING THROUGH THIS TIME TOGETHER THROUGH LOVE AND GOT US THROUGH FOR ALL THE SUPPORT WE’VE BEEN RECEIVING.>>Sandra: WE’RE SEEING SOME BEAUTIFUL IMAGES AND PICTURES OF YOUR SISTER WITH YOU. I KNOW YOU TWO WERE VERY CLOSE. HOW DID YOU FIRST GET WORD OF THIS BOAT FIRE AND THIS HORRIFIC TRAGEDY?>>IT CAME OUT OF MY FIANCE, AND MY DAD LEFT ME A VOICEMAIL SAYING WE DON’T HAVE GOOD NEWS. AND I DON’T WATCH THE NEWS AND SO I LOOKED AT WHAT HAPPENED AND I JUST HAD THIS OVERWHELMING WAVE OF SADNESS AND I JUST HAD THIS FEELING OF GRIEF THAT CAME OVER MY BODY AND WHAT I DID KNOW AND WHAT BROUGHT ME CALMNESS IF MY SISTER DID HAVE A WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITY TO SURVIVE, THAT SHE WOULD HAVE MADE IT HAPPEN DUE TO KNOWING HER AND KNOWING HER SKILL SET AND HER AWARENESS OF THE BOAT AND EVERYTHING LIKE THAT. SHE HAD ALL THE TOOLS SHE NEEDED TO MAKE — TO LIVE IF IT WAS A POSSIBILITY.>>I KNOW YOU’VE TALKED ABOUT HER DIVING SINCE SHE WAS A TODDLER AND SHE HAS BEEN INVOLVED IN THOUSANDS OF DIVES IN HER LIFE. AND SAFETY WAS SUCH A BIG THING FOR HER. NOT KNOWING EXACTLY HOW THIS HAPPENED HAS GOT TO BE SO DIFFICULT. AS YOU HEARD FROM OUR REPORTER THERE, OUR AUDIENCE JUST HEARD YOU AND YOUR FAMILY AND THE OTHER VICTIMS’ FAMILY MEMBERS WERE ABLE TO MEET WITH OFFICIALS ON THE GROUND THERE FOR HOURS. WAS IT HELPFUL? WERE YOU ABLE TO GET SOME INFORMATION AS TO HOW THIS HAPPENED?>>YES. THE INFORMATION THAT HAS BEEN RELEASED TO THE PUBLIC AND TO MY FAMILY IS JUST BEING HELD PRIVATE NOW UNTIL WE CAN UNDERSTAND WHAT THE TRUE CAUSE OF THIS ACCIDENT WAS. ABSOLUTELY DEVASTATING FOR MY FAMILY AND ALL THE FAMILIES INVOLVED. MY HEART AND SYMPATHY GOES OUT TO ANYONE THAT IS HOLDING SPACE FOR HEALING TO HAPPEN RIGHT NOW IN THEIR LIFE.>>Sandra: THOSE FIVE CREW MEMBERS THAT JUMPED — THEY JUMPED OVERBOARD AND WE’VE HEARD THE CALLS OF DISTRESS AND HOW PANICKED THEY WERE ABOUT THOSE THAT WERE BELOW DECK INCLUDING YOUR SISTER. HAVE YOU SPOKEN WITH ANY OF THOSE CREW MEMBERS?>>I HAVEN’T HAD THE OPPORTUNITY TO SPEAK WITH THE CREW MEMBERS BUT I DO KNOW THAT WE JUST HAVE TO HANDLE THIS WITH RESILIENCY AND LEARN HOW TO OBSERVE, ADAPT AND RECOVER FROM WHAT WE HAVE LEFT FROM THIS HORRIBLE ACCIDENT.>>Sandra: COULD YOU TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR SISTER AND SHE WAS AN EXPERIENCED DIVER, SAFETY WAS A BIG THING FOR HER. YOU TWO WERE BEST OF FRIENDS AND THIS IS SOMETHING SHE LOVED TO DO AND I KNOW YOU SAID THAT BRINGS YOU SOME PEACE KNOWING THAT SHE WAS DOING — SHE WAS — THIS WAS HER PASSION.>>YEAH. IT BRINGS ME PEACE KNOWING THAT SHE DID TRANSITION TO BE WITH THE GOOD LORD DOING SOMETHING THAT SHE LOVED. HER TRUE PASSION. SHE WAS AN AQUATIC BIOLOGIST AND HAD A DEEP DEPTH OF KNOWLEDGE FOR OCEAN LIFE AND MOTHER EARTH. SHE SHARED THAT PASSION WITH EVERYONE SHE KNEW. SHE WAS EXTREMELY INTELLIGENT AND EXTREMELY FUN AND LOVING AND SHE JUST SHINED HER LIGHT EVERYWHERE. SHE TURNED ME ON TO YOGA AND I’M AN ACTIVE YOGA INSTRUCTOR NOW AND I WILL NEVER FORGET JUST THE FEELINGS AND THE MEMORIES THAT WE’VE CREATED TOGETHER IN ALL OF OUR ADVENTURES. AS THEY SAY DEATH IS THE GREATEST ADVENTURE OF ALL. ONE OF THE THINGS THAT WE ALWAYS SHARED WITH EACH OTHER THAT TRAVEL DOESN’T BECOME ADVENTURE UNTIL YOU LEAVE YOURSELF BEHIND. ALTHOUGH SHE IS NO LONGER HERE, HER SPIRIT AND HER LOVE AND HER VIBRANT ENERGY WILL ALWAYS BE WITHIN ME AND EVERY PERSON THAT SHE EVER GOT TO BE AROUND.>>Sandra: VERY CLEARLY THE TWO OF YOU HAD A VERY STRONG FAMILY BOND AND CONNECTION. WE’RE SO SORRY FOR YOUR LOSS AND OUR BEST TO YOUR FAMILY.>>WELL THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR LETTING ME SHARE ABOUT MY SISTER. SHE IS SUCH A BEAUTIFUL SOUL AND I JUST ONCE AGAIN THANK EVERYONE FOR THE SUPPORT. I’M READING ALL THE MESSAGES AND GETTING ALL THE CALLS AND SHARING IT WITH MY FAMILY AND WE LOVE YOU ALL SO MUCH. THIS HAS BROUGHT US TOGETHER AND ALSO HOPEFULLY EVERYONE INVOLVED. ALL THE PEOPLE GOING THROUGH A HORRIBLE TIME WITH THE HURRICANE AND EVERYTHING, WHATEVER KIND OF TRAGEDY YOU ARE DEALING WITH IN YOUR LIFE IT IS IMPORTANT TO KNOW YOU ARE LOVED AND THERE WERE PEOPLE THAT ARE HERE TO SUPPORT YOU.>>Sandra: LOVE YOUR FAMILY MEMBERS WHILE YOU HAVE THEM IS YOUR MESSAGE. YOU NEVER KNOW WHEN IT CAN COME TO AN END. BRETT, THANK YOU.>>YOU’RE WELCOME. THANK YOU.>>Bill: WHAT A GREAT BROTHER.>>Sandra: INCREDIBLY SAD.>>Bill: GOOD MAN THERE.>>Sandra: MESSAGE EARLIER. LOVE THE PEOPLE YOU HAVE IN YOUR LIFE BECAUSE YOU DON’T KNOW WHEN THEIR TIME IS UP. REALLY NEAT CONNECTION HE HAD WITH HIS SISTER AND SHE IS GONE NOW.