Three dead after boat capsizes off San Diego coast

Marco Green
May 3, 2021

"All of these illegal crossings at sea are inherently unsafe, and we have seen too many turn from risky to tragic as smugglers sacrifice the safety of those on board for the sake of profits". A breakdown of their ages, genders and nationalities was not immediately available.

"Conditions were pretty rough, five to six feet of surf, windy, cold, water is around 60 degrees, so you get hypothermia pretty quickly", Romero said.

Items from a boat sit on the shoreline at Cabrillo National Monument near where it capsized just off the San Diego coast. There had been about 30 people on the boat in severely crowded conditions without adequate safety equipment, authorities said.

SDFD Lifeguard Services Lieutenant Rick Romero told reporters rescuers pulled seven people from the waves including the three migrants who died. One person was rescued from a cliff and 22 others managed to make it to shore, he said.

The fire department said more than 20 people were transported to local hospitals "including Sharp Memorial, Palomar Medical Center West, Alvarado, UCSD Medical Center (Hillcrest), Grossmont Hospital, Kaiser Clairemont Mesa, Kaiser Zion and Paradise Valley Hospital".

The initial report said there was just one person aboard the distressed ship.

According to U.S. Coast Guard, four people were killed in the crash and 25 people were taken to the hospital.

There were life preservers on board, but it wasn't known how many or whether any passengers were wearing them, officials said.

He said the boat appeared to be attempting to blend in with commercial vessels before capsizing onto the rocky coastline.

"Federal agencies are still searching the water in vessels and aircraft", the San Diego Fire Department said. "The smugglers, they don't care about the people they're exploiting. All they care about is lining their own pocket for profit".

Stephenson said the San Diego Sector experienced a growing number of maritime smuggling apprehensions this year. Stephenson said the cabin cruiser was not on their radar.

Authorities said they assume the journey was "illegal migration".

The 40-foot vessel that struck the reef Sunday is larger than the smuggling boats CBP typically encounters off the Southern California coast, according to Tucker.

Human and drug smugglers increasingly turned to the Pacific Ocean as an alternate way to enter the United States after the Trump administration tightened border infrastructure on land in recent years. "They're looking for any method they can to move what they view as a commodity".

CBP announced in a news release Friday it was beefing up patrol operations this weekend to deter smugglers. Just last Thursday, Customs and Border Protection agents intercepted a panga 11 miles off the coast of Point Loma that was carrying 21 Mexican citizens suspected of trying to enter the US illegally, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported. The crew took all 15 men and six women into custody. The two suspected smugglers on board will face federal charges, it said. Most of the victims were able to walk themselves to ambulances, he said.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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