One person dead and three rescued as boat sinks off Catalina Island

A coastline with lots of boats in a harbor.
Two Harbors on Santa Catalina Island in 2020.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

One person died and three others were rescued early Saturday when a moored boat took on water and sank off the coast of Santa Catalina Island, authorities said.

Los Angeles County Fire Department lifeguards were dispatched to the area just after 4 a.m., according to Fire Department Supervisor Bernard Peters.

First responders ultimately found a deceased woman in her late 50s or early 60s. An injured person was taken to a Catalina hospital and two others who had been on the boat were unhurt, Peters said.

Jody Mack, who was sleeping on a nearby sailboat, said she and her husband were roused by screaming early Saturday and quickly jumped into action.


“They kept screaming the person’s name who perished and then they screamed help. And that’s when we jumped up and got over to their boat as quick as possible in the dinghy,” Mack said.

Her husband paddled to the capsized boat about 30 yards away, where boaters in three other dinghies also tried to assist before authorities arrived.

Two women were helped into dinghies, Mack said, and a third woman appeared to be stuck partially inside the sinking boat. A fourth woman was believed to still be inside the boat, Mack said.

A bystander from a nearby boat who had fins and a mask tried to dive into the sinking boat to look for the woman, Mack said.

“It’s bizarre to have a boat on a mooring ball just sink,” Mack said.

Authorities have not yet determined a cause of death for the woman, L.A. County Sheriff’s Deputy Grace Medrano said.


The 40-foot recreational boat was underwater when sheriff’s deputies arrived, Medrano said. It’s not known what caused the boat to sink.

The Sheriff’s Department will be handling the investigation.

This is a developing story.