Body found near San Diego beach after a suspected smuggling boat overturned
The body of a fully clothed man was discovered in the water off a San Diego beach Monday morning — the second death believed related to a failed smuggling attempt.
A 30-foot panga was found capsized in the water early Sunday near the Ocean Beach pier, where three men were rescued by lifeguards and one man was found dead.
The second body was spotted by beachgoers around 10 a.m. Monday along the surf line off Dog Beach, north of the Ocean Beach pier, said San Diego Fire-Rescue spokesman Jose Ysea.
Lifeguards went into the water and retrieved the body of the man, who was a Latino adult. Police were notified. “At this point they believe he may be related to the panga boat incident from yesterday,” Ysea said.
The county Medical Examiner’s Office took possession of the body and will conduct an investigation to try to determine the man’s identify and how he died.
On Sunday, lifeguards and the U.S. Coast Guard searched for hours looking for other people who may have been riding in the panga before it overturned.
Boats often are used to transport undocumented migrants from Mexican waters to the United States. Pangas are low-slung boats outfitted with outboard motors — sometimes used as fishing vessels. Their low profile often allows them to go undetected as they cross the border.
Journeys by panga are often quite perilous, with smugglers tending to travel farther from shore, at night or when there is fog, to avoid being seen. Last year, three Mexican citizens died when their panga boat broke apart on rocks off Point Loma.
Experts say the shift is in response to restrictive border policies that put migrants at increasing danger as they are pushed farther out to the high seas.
The first body found in the weekend incident was that of an adult male Mexican citizen, according to the Consulate General of Mexico in San Diego. His body was found near Dog Beach.
The consulate has already contacted the family of the man whose body was found Sunday. He was 37 and originally from the state of Guerrero. Staff from the consulate also visited three men who were hospitalized to offer assistance if needed, and the consulate will follow up with authorities if and when other victims are identified.
The total number of people on board the boat at the time it capsized was unknown.
Times staff writer Kate Morrissey contributed to this report.
9:52 a.m. April 12, 2022: This story was updated with additional information from the Consulate General of Mexico in San Diego.
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