Friends made a touching tribute Wednesday on Mission Bay for a San Diego woman who was one of 34 people killed when a diving boat burst into flames Monday off the coast of Santa Cruz Island.
As the evening rolled in, friends held a paddle out in honor of Nicole Quitasol, 31. The tribute took place at Bahia Point, in the foreground of a fittingly beautiful sunset. Quitasol’s friends said they could feel her presence.
“It just kind of felt like she was here with us. Like she showed up as the sun was setting,” said friend Ciara Guedesse. “It was perfection.”
Quitasol was on a diving excursion aboard the Conception on Labor Day weekend celebrating her father’s birthday with their family. Quitasol, two of her sisters, her father and his wife are all presumed dead in the fire that ripped through the commercial diving boat.
An adventurous soul, friends said Quitasol enjoyed water activities like paddle boarding with her family of outdoor enthusiasts at Venture Active.
Meet-ups became a Wednesday tradition for Quitasol when she could make it.
"There was always something exciting and new and fun to do with her," said Guedesse. "And so we got to spend a lot of days doing different things, getting to know her and love her."
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As they returned from their hour-long paddle out, a seal sighting served as a reminder of Quitasol's love of nature.
Her friends also reflected on the woman they remembered as open, honest and always fun.
“She laughed at herself, joked about herself, but at the same time was this strong, gorgeous, incredibly intelligent human being and I always respected that about her,” said Laurel Smith.
Quitasol worked at Nicky Rottens restaurant in Coronado. There will be a fundraiser there Thursday at 4 p.m. to raise money for her and her loved ones funerals. A GoFundMe page was launched to help raise funds for the funerals, too.
Quitasol’s Venture Active family is also holding a day full of dog-friendly events on Sept. 21 starting with a 6:45 a.m. sunrise hike on Cowles Mountain followed, by Yoga at Kate Sessions Park at 12:30 p.m. At 4 p.m. that day, there's also a barefoot paddle at North Cove. All activities will be free, but they’re asking for donations to the family’s GoFundMe page.
The group also asks that participants sign up here for the Sept. 21 celebration so organizers can start tallying up the head count.