The death toll has risen to 36 in the Oakland Ghost Ship tragedy in what may be the deadliest structure fire in the last century. Among the victims are two people who apparently died together in one last embrace. Alameda County Sheriff Sgt. Ray Kelly told reporters, “We have found people that have died in each other’s arms, protecting each other, holding each other.”
Although the identities of the individuals have not yet been revealed, the families of Alex Vega, 22, and Michela Gregory, 20, believe in their hearts it was this couple. David Gregory, the father of Michela said he knows it was them. “There were some folks that were found hugging each other. I believe my daughter and Alex were hugging each other. To the end, they were together, trying to help each other, I’m sure. I know it.”
Later, both bodies were identified. Michela’s license was found and Alex was identified by his fingerprints. Vega’s brother, Daniel, felt helpless as the investigation got underway. He told reporters, “I just want to go over there (to the fire site). I have my work boots on, I’m ready to go.” He added. “Just give me some gloves. I’ll help out any way, shape or form, I don’t care. This is infuriating. I don’t know where my brother’s at. I just want to find him.”
The family takes some small comfort in knowing that the couple was together during this terrible tragedy with Daniel saying, “At least we know they were together, and maybe they died together, protecting each other.”
Investigators are looking into whether a faulty electrical system that wasn’t up to code may have caused the fire.