A woman aboard a boat packed with suspected immigrants died early Thursday after the vessel collided with a Border Patrol boat that had intercepted it, authorities said.
The interception took place in the predawn hours near Encinitas, where the crew aboard a U.S. Customs and Border Protection boat spotted a suspected smuggling vessel cutting through the water. The crew confronted the boat’s pilot and fired warning shots but the boat didn’t stop, authorities said.
The two vessels collided and the smuggling boat capsized, spilling 20 people into the water.
Crews managed to pull everyone from the water, among them a woman who was unconscious.
The Border Patrol called for a rescue from the U.S. Coast Guard about 2:30 a.m., said Coast Guard Petty Officer Robert Simpson.
A Coast Guard helicopter arrived and hoisted the woman from the boat about 3:50 a.m., Simpson said.
She was rushed to a local hospital where she was pronounced dead. Her name and age were not immediately available.
The 19 other people were motored to the coast in the Border Patrol boat where they were treated for their injuries. Four people had to be hospitalized, the Border Patrol said.
Authorities believe the group was trying to enter the country illegally and all are in custody. A Border Patrol boat is checking the waters around this morning’s interception to see if any other cargo items, such as drugs, were tossed off board, officials said.
For breaking California news, follow @JosephSerna.