Mom who lost 3 daughters in California boat fire: 'I was so proud of them'

A mother left devastated by Monday morning's boat fire off the coast of California is speaking out in the wake of her unimaginable loss.

Susana Solano Rosas took to Facebook on Thursday to pen a heartbreaking post after her three daughters, Evan Solano Quitasol, Nicole Storm Quitasol and Angela Rose Quitasol, died when the Conception, a 75-foot commercial vessel owned by Truth Aquatics, went up in flames near Santa Cruz Island around 3:00 a.m. Monday.

In addition to losing her three daughters, Rosas also lost her ex-husband, Michael Storm Quitasol — the father of the three girls — and their stepmom, Fernisa Sison, in the blaze, which claimed the lives of 33 people and left one unaccounted for.

"On Monday we came to Santa Barbara in a rush to be with my daughters," she wrote. "My hopes were that Evan, Nicole, and Angela Rose were only injured. 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," she continued. "I know our children don't belong to us. As parents, we have plans for their life. They had supassed [sic] my expectations...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."

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Dozens killed after boat catches fire off California coast
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Dozens killed after boat catches fire off California coast
In this photo provided by the Ventura County Fire Department, VCFD firefighters respond to a boat fire off the coast of southern California, Monday, Sept. 2, 2019. The U.S. Coast Guard said it has launched several boats to help over two dozen people "in distress" off the coast of southern California. (Ventura County Fire Department via AP)
In this photo provided by the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, firefighters work to extinguish a dive boat engulfed in flames after a deadly fire broke out aboard the commercial scuba diving vessel off the Southern California Coast Monday morning, Sept. 2, 2019. (Santa Barbara County Fire Department via AP)
In this photo provided by the Ventura County Fire Department, VCFD firefighters respond to a boat fire off the coast of southern California, Monday, Sept. 2, 2019. The U.S. Coast Guard said it has launched several boats to help over two dozen people "in distress" off the coast of southern California. (Ventura County Fire Department via AP)
In this photo provided by the Santa Barbara County Fire Department a dive boat is engulfed in flames after a deadly fire broke out aboard the commercial scuba diving vessel off the Southern California Coast Monday morning, Sept. 2, 2019. (Santa Barbara County Fire Department via AP)
In this photo provided by the Ventura County Fire Department, VCFD firefighters respond to a boat fire off the coast of southern California, Monday, Sept. 2, 2019. The U.S. Coast Guard said it has launched several boats to help over two dozen people "in distress" off the coast of southern California. (Ventura County Fire Department via AP)
A memorial outside Truth Aquatics for the victims of the Conception boat fire, Monday, Sept. 2, 2019. A fire raged through a boat carrying recreational scuba divers anchored near an island off the Southern California coast early Monday, leaving multiple people dead and hope diminishing that any of the more than two dozen people still missing would be found alive. (AP Photo/Stefanie Dazio)
Orlando Aldana, 42, of Santa Barbara, lights candles in honor of the victims at the growing memorial for those caught in the fire on the Conception boat, Monday, Sept. 2, 2019, in Santa Barbara, Calif. A fire raged through the boat carrying recreational scuba divers anchored near an island off the Southern California coast early Monday, leaving multiple people dead and hope diminishing that any of the more than two dozen people still missing would be found alive. (AP Photo/Stefanie Dazio)
JJ Lambert, 38, and his fiancee, Jenna Marsala, 33, hang up a dive flag in remembrance of the victims of the Conception boat fire at a memorial site on Monday, Sept. 2, 2019, in Santa Barbara, Calif. A fire raged through the boat carrying recreational scuba divers anchored near an island off the Southern California coast early Monday, leaving multiple people dead and hope diminishing that any of the more than two dozen people still missing would be found alive. (AP Photo/Stefanie Dazio)
A Ventura County Fire Department truck leaves U.S. Coast Guard Station Channel Islands in Oxnard, Calif., Monday, Sept. 2, 2019. Multiple people are feared dead after a dive boat caught fire before dawn Monday off the Southern California coast. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)
An FBI agent arrives at U.S. Coast Guard Station Channel Islands in Oxnard, Calif., Monday, Sept. 2, 2019, as multiple people are feared dead after a dive boat caught fire before dawn Monday off the Southern California coast. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)
FBI and Coast Guard personnel work together at U.S. Coast Guard Station Channel Islands in Oxnard, Calif., Monday, Sept. 2, 2019, as multiple people are feared dead after a dive boat caught fire before dawn Monday off the Southern California coast. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)
A woman is comforted by a member of the Ventura County Fire department at U.S. Coast Guard Station Channel Islands in Oxnard, Calif., Monday, Sept. 2, 2019. Multiple people are feared dead after a dive boat caught fire before dawn Monday off the Southern California coast, according to the Coast Guard. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)
Coast Guard Capt. Monica Rochester, right, addresses the media at the U.S. Coast Guard Station Channel Islands base in Oxnard, Calif. Monday, Sept. 2, 2019. A dive boat caught fire before dawn Monday off the Southern California coast. Several crew members were rescued and Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Kroll told The Associated Press the Coast Guard was searching for others who may have been able to escape the fire by jumping from the boat. (AP Photo/Stefanie Dazio)
CALIFORNIA shaded relief map, highlighted with SACRAMENTO (capital) and fire locators, partial graphic
Coast Guard crews leave the US Coast Guard Station Channel Islands as they head out to the scene of the boat that burned and sank off the Santa Cruz islands early in the morning at the Coast Guard base in Oxnard, California on September 2, 2019. - A commercial scuba-dive boat sank amid intense flames early off the coast of Southern California and 34 passengers were unaccounted for, the US Coast Guard said. Five Conception crew members were awake and jumped into the water when flames burst out around 3:15 am (1015 GMT), Coast Guard Captain Monica Rochester told reporters in a televised briefing. She said 34 people -- not the 33 reported earlier by the Coast Guard -- were unaccounted for when the Conception sank 20 yards (meters) offshore, leaving only its bow exposed. (Photo by Mark RALSTON / AFP) (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
Coast Guard crews leave the US Coast Guard Station Channel Islands as they head out to the scene of the boat that burned and sank off the Santa Cruz islands early in the morning at the Coast Guard base in Oxnard, California on September 2, 2019. - A commercial scuba-dive boat sank amid intense flames early off the coast of Southern California and 34 passengers were unaccounted for, the US Coast Guard said. Five Conception crew members were awake and jumped into the water when flames burst out around 3:15 am (1015 GMT), Coast Guard Captain Monica Rochester told reporters in a televised briefing. She said 34 people -- not the 33 reported earlier by the Coast Guard -- were unaccounted for when the Conception sank 20 yards (meters) offshore, leaving only its bow exposed. (Photo by Mark RALSTON / AFP) (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
A Coast Guard crew leaves the US Coast Guard Station Channel Islands as they head out to the scene of the boat that burned and sank off the Santa Cruz islands early in the morning at the Coast Guard base in Oxnard, California on September 2, 2019. - A commercial scuba-dive boat sank amid intense flames early off the coast of Southern California and 34 passengers were unaccounted for, the US Coast Guard said. Five Conception crew members were awake and jumped into the water when flames burst out around 3:15 am (1015 GMT), Coast Guard Captain Monica Rochester told reporters in a televised briefing. She said 34 people -- not the 33 reported earlier by the Coast Guard -- were unaccounted for when the Conception sank 20 yards (meters) offshore, leaving only its bow exposed. (Photo by Mark RALSTON / AFP) (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
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Rosas also opened up about her difficulties explaining the tragedy to her 8-year-old daughter, Elizabeth, who was not present on the vessel when five of her family members died.

"I wanted to protect her from the information, but according to the grief counselor, this is best," Rosas wrote. "Elizabeth has been so well behaved, (like) a true hero."

Solas ended her post by saying she was thankful for all the "phone calls, texts, kind words, donations," adding that she and her husband "read them all" and view them as a source of great comfort.

"My daughters loved people," she remembered. "They loved helping others have better lives through their service. Weather [sic] it was beach clean ups, teaching (or) healing. They were environmentalist in the sense that they always were looking at how to help the environment. Sometimes it was a little annoying to walk the beach and have my bucket filled with trash instead of sea shells. I enjoyed every minute I spent with them. I was in my glory when all the Q Girls were around."

The Quitasol family used to take a diving trip annually in celebration of their father Michael's birthday, according to his daughter, Christina, who was unable to make this year's excursion, where her sisters, dad and stepmom died, she wrote Wednesday on Facebook.

"Today would have been my father's birthday, he would be turning 63," she wrote. "Every year my family would get together and celebrate his birthday in the most amazing way. We would dive the channel islands. All of us together, the people he loved, on a boat, for one awesome weekend. Every year we looked forward to this trip. It's a passion we all shared, so much that we called ourselves Ohana Scuba."

"Most years my sisters and I would all be in attendance on this trip," she explained. "Some years, like this year, one of us would be unable to join. This year I couldn't make the trip. The majority of my family was on that boat. My beautiful, happy parents and my sisters. They were my first friends. My best friends. We were always known as the Q Girls, I was 2 of 4. Just a bunch of big kids who loved to good off and have fun together. We never grew out of that phase. In an instant, they're all gone."

Christina also thanked everyone who has sent condolences but added she was "not yet ready to take phone calls or texts."

"I appreciate your understanding during this difficult time," she added. "I've found some peace in reading all of the wonderful, beautiful messages everyone has been leaving about my family."

A GoFundMe campaign to benefit the family has already raised over $20,000 of its $55,000 goal.

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