15 detained after smuggling boat capsizes off San Diego County beach
A total of 15 people were found after the suspected smuggling boat capsized; lifeguards used a Jet Ski to rescue people off the sand and transport them to a Coast Guard boat
Thirteen people were rescued by lifeguards off a beach in the Sunset Cliffs area of San Diego County early Monday after a suspected smuggling boat capsized in the surf line. Two others were found atop a nearby cliff, officials said.
The vessel, an estimated 20-foot-long panga, was spotted near Sunset Cliffs Boulevard and Ladera Street shortly before 7 a.m.
“As they were coming into the beach, they got caught in a wave and, basically, the front end sank, causing the boat to pitch over and capsize,” said San Diego Lifeguard Services Lt. Rick Romero. “When we arrived on scene, the boat was upside down, and there were people on the secluded beach there.”
Border Patrol agents set up a perimeter and arrested two people who had climbed up the cliffs from the beach. The remaining 13 people stayed on the beach, where the tide was rising.
Lifeguards, responding with two boats and a Jet Ski, went to check on the condition of the people on the sand and found that no one was injured. They then used the Jet Ski to take the group onto a U.S. Coast Guard vessel, a large platform boat.
Once all the people were removed from the beach and were aboard the boat, they were taken to Ballast Point in Point Loma, where they were met by Border Patrol agents, officials said.
Agents determined that 12 Mexican men, two Mexican women and one Honduran man, ranging in age from 19 to 57, were aboard the panga, and all 15 had illegally entered the U.S., said Border Patrol spokesman Jarrett Decker.
The group was taken to a Border Patrol station for further processing.
Kucher writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune.
5:32 p.m. May 18, 2020: This story was updated with additional information from the U.S. Border Patrol
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