SANTA BARBARA, Calif. (WMC) - A Mid-South doctor was among the 34 victims of a deadly boat fire off the coast of California earlier this week.
The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office released names of the victims who have been identified so far, including Dr. Ted Strom, 62, of Germantown.
Strom was a pathologist at the Memphis Veterans Affairs Medical Center. He is also listed as an associate professor on the University of Tennessee Health Science Center’s faculty page.
Strom’s family released the following statement through a public relations firm: “On behalf of the Strom family, we wanted to share that Dr. Ted Strom died this past weekend in the boat fire during a scuba diving exhibition off the coast of Southern California. The Strom family wants everyone to know that he passed in a place he cherished while doing something he loved. During this very difficult time, the family requests complete privacy.”
The Memphis VA Medical Center sent condolences in a statement upon confirmation of Strom’s passing.
“The leadership and staff of the Memphis Veterans Affairs Medical Center are deeply saddened by the loss of Dr. Ted Strom," reads a statement from Col. David Dunning, U.S. Army (ret.). "His exceptional service to Veterans as a staff physician is a testament to the type person that he was. Our thoughts and prayers remain with his family during this time. He will certainly be missed.”
Authorities said Friday that the victims were killed as they slept in bunks below deck Monday. They appear to have died from smoke inhalation and not the fire, though their bodies were burned and investigators had to turn to DNA analysis for identification. More than half of the 34 victims have been identified so far.
Five crew members survived after trying to rescue the 33 passengers and one crew member killed in the fire. The victims’ escape was blocked by flames, according to investigators.