Mom of 3 Sisters Who Died in Boat Fire Writes Heartbreaking Post: 'The Pacific Ocean Has Called Them'
Sisters Evan Solano Quitasol, Nicole Storm Quitasol, and Angela Rose Quitasol are among the 34 people presumed dead from Monday's boating tragedy
On Thursday, Susana Solano Rosas wrote a heartbreaking Facebook post about the loss of her daughters, Evan Solano Quitasol, Nicole Storm Quitasol and Angela Rose Quitasol.
Rosas, who rushed to Santa Barbara on Monday in hopes to find her daughters alive, said she was devastated to learn her three children — in addition to the girls’ father, Michael Storm Quitaso and their stepmother, Fernisa Sison — were victims in the Conception boat fire, but found some solace in knowing “the Pacific Ocean has called them along.”
“My hopes were that Evan, Nicole, and Angela Rose were only injured,” Rosas began. “They were such strong swimmers. For sure they would have made it to land. They had only had 20 yards to swim. I was hoping we would be able to hug them and hold them. Instead we don’t have them. We can’t bring them home yet. I know our children don’t belong to us.”
Rosas went on to share how special her daughters were, discussing their personalities, ambitions and passions.
“As parents, we have plans for their life. They had surpassed my expectations I had for them,” she explained. “I was so proud of them and their accomplishments. They each knew it, too.”
“My three girls were very happy with their lives. They each had found their loves, were well established in their communities with the best part of life ahead of them,” Rosas continued.
“My daughters loved people. They loved helping others have better lives through their service,” she recalled. “Whether it was beach clean-ups, teaching or healing. They were environmentalist in the sense that they always… protecting Mother Earth, especially the oceans and trees.”
“Sometimes it was a little annoying to walk the beach and have my bucket filled with trash instead of seashells,” Rosas joked, but went on to admit, “I enjoyed every minute I spent with them. I was in my glory when all the Q Girls were around.”
Continuing, Rosas thanked the city of Santa Barbara for assisting her through this difficult time and recognized how several local aid organizations have helped ease her pain, including telling her 8-year-old daughter about the boating accident.
“The people here have been nothing but gracious. I came with no clothes, the Salvation Army helped me. The Red Cross helped with so many things I can’t count,” she explained. “Hospice helped tell my 8-year-old about the accident and that her sisters have died. I wanted to protect her from the information, but according to the grief counselor, this is best.”
“I have met others with my same loss,” she added. “They described their loved ones very similar to mine.”
Rosas also thanked the hundreds of people who have reached out to her family, sending their condolences, support and donations. (A series of GoFundMe pages were set up for the family by the daughters’ loved ones and former employers.)
“I want to thank you all for your phone calls, texts, kind words, donations. The setting up of fundraiser. I am overwhelmed and humbled by all the support,” Rosas wrote. “It gives me great comfort to know my daughters, their dad and his wife were able to touch so many lives.”
“It is very difficult to know what to say to parents that have lost their children. Or to someone like Christina that lost her sisters, father and stepmom,” she continued, referencing her other daughter, Christina Quitasol, whom she shared with Michael.
“I can only say for me and my hubby, we don’t mind the texts, the phone calls the FB messages. I read them all. They bring great comfort to me,” she reassured. “If you do call me or my hubby, know we may cry or sob. It does not mean you have upset us. It is because you have touch[ed] our heart with your love for another human being.”
Like Rosas mentioned in her post, the three daughters all left behind lives and careers they were passionate about.
Middle daughter Nicole, 31, resided in San Diego and worked in the Coronado as a bartender at Nicky Rottens Bar and Burger.
Her boss Bryn Andrew described Nicole to PEOPLE as an adventurous person who loved the ocean and the beach, spent time with her golden retriever Peanut Butter and enjoyed all water sports. He also noted how reliable and personable she was.
“I organized a beach clean-up, which Nicole did all the time. I asked everyone at the restaurant to participate and the only one who showed up was Nicole and Peanut Butter,” he recalled to PEOPLE. “I told Nicole I thought I’d be the only one here, and she said she would never desert me.”
“She was the kind of person you met once and felt like you were related to her,” he added.
The eldest of the sisters, Evan, worked as a nurse at St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Stockton, California.
Hospital officials confirmed Evan’s suspected death in a statement to PEOPLE, writing, “We were extremely saddened to learn the tragic news that one of our nurses was on board the Conception. Two former long-term staff members were also on board. We held a prayer gathering in our Chapel this morning to offer comfort and support to our hospital family. Our hearts go out to all the families and loved ones of those on board the Conception.”
As for Angela, the youngest of the trio, she worked at a middle school science teacher with the Lincoln Unified School district in Stockton, according to a post on their Facebook page.
“LUTA is deeply saddened that our fellow Lincoln Unified Teacher, Angela Quitasol, was on the boat that caught fire off the coast of Santa Barbara county this past weekend,” the district wrote. “Our hearts go out to all the people and their loved ones that were on board. We will send more information on how LUTA members can help support as soon as possible.”
After the fire broke out on Monday, five crew members who were awake managed to jump ship and seek refuge on a nearby boat called the Grape Escape, which they traveled to via dinghy.
As of Wednesday afternoon, search teams recovered 33 bodies in the aftermath of the fire, which occurred off of Santa Cruz Island, California. One person is still missing, and authorities have yet to formally identify the victims.
Coast Guard Lt. Zach Farrell said all but one of those left seemingly trapped by flames onboard the 75-foot Conception early Monday have been recovered as of Wednesday afternoon, the Associated Press reported.
Truth Aquatics, which owns the Conception, has not commented.