Coronado Channel Islands Boat Fire Victim
Co-workers in Coronado established a GoFundMe page for the loved ones of Nicole Quitasol, one of five family members feared lost in the Channel Islands boat tragedy. Photo credit: Screenshot,

Management at a Coronado restaurant confirmed that a San Diego resident who worked there was one of the passengers feared dead in the boat tragedy near Santa Cruz Island.

Nicole Quitasol, 31, was identified as one of the 39 people aboard the boat. She took the trip along with four family members, including her father and two sisters, who also are presumed lost. Her co-workers have started a crowdfunding effort to support Nicole’s family and defray funeral costs.

U.S. Coast Guard officials ended their search for survivors Tuesday. Authorities said they had recovered 20 bodies as of Tuesday morning. Between four and six more were seen in the sunken wreckage.

Rescuers believe five crew members who escaped the burning boat early Monday are the only survivors.

Quitasol’s mother, Susana Solano Rosas, said in a Facebook post that three of her daughters, Nicole, Evan and Angela, their father and another woman, remained among the missing. She offered the information to friends, she said, “with a broken heart.”

Her husband, Chris Rosas, described the young women to the Los Angeles Times as “the most kind, most loving people I’ve ever met — and I’m not just saying that because they’re family.” He said Nicole worked as a bartender and loved the sea.

The family, he said, had been celebrating father Michael Quitasol’s birthday on the boat. Two weeks ago they gathered for a wedding of another sister, Evita, in which they served as part of the bridal party.

According to media reports, the other woman onboard with the family was Michael’s wife, Fernisa June Sison, both residents of the Central Valley region of the state.

Michael worked as a nurse at Kaiser Permanente Modesto while Evan and Sison worked at hospitals in Stockton and Modesto.

Nicole Quitasol worked at Nicky Rottens Bar and Burger Joint on Orange Avenue in Coronado for four years, according to Bryn Butolph, a restaurant executive.

Butolph began a GoFundMe page Tuesday with the blessing of Nicole Quitasol’s mother.

“I asked if she wanted to talk to anybody, news-wise, and she obviously just can’t handle it,” Butolph said. “She said `just take every call you can and get my daughter’s story out there.’

“And that’s what we’re doing.”

Butolph said that although they’re “torn apart,” staff members asked to keep the restaurant open so they could celebrate Nicole’s life as a group. Her regular customers have also come in to remember her.

“People want to listen to music and have beer and talk about her,” Butolph said. “So I guess that’s the one silver lining that we’ve got so far, you know, they all want to be together and hang out and we’re happy to provide a safe space for everybody to mourn together.”

Since beginning Tuesday afternoon, the campaign has raised about $1,400 of its $55,000 goal.

– City News Service and staff reports

Updated 7:45 p.m.