Two boats that crashed off California’s coast claimed the lives of eight people. Emergency officials said the boat was being used by people smugglers.
San Diego Fire and Rescue received a 911 call on Saturday night at 11.30pm local time.
The caller said that she was in a pangaboat, a small fishing boat powered by an outboard motor. It was accompanied by 15 others who had reached Black’s Beach just north of the city.
According to Richard Brahm, Coast Guard petty officer Richard Brahm, “The woman calling stated that the boat that overturned had fifteen people on it but that was just an estimation.”
After using GPS coordinates to locate the woman’s phone, rescuers headed to the beach to search for her. They found two boats that had been flipped and several bodies scattered across the coastline.
San Diego Fire Rescue’s deputy chief operating officer Daniel Eddy said that debris could be found along Black’s Beach.
Many crews searched the area by air and water, but the thick fog over the night hampered their efforts. On Sunday, a Coast Guard cutter searched the ocean and a helicopter crew joined the search.
On Sunday morning, San Diego Fire-Rescue Lifeguard Chief James Gartland stated that this was one of the most serious smuggling tragedies in California. It happened in San Diego.
Gartland stated that the waters near the beach can be deceiving. Even in daytime, that area can be very dangerous. There are a number of sandbars along with in-shore rip currents. You can imagine that you can get into the sand, or even reach waist-high water, and then think you can safely exit the water. However, there are long, deep holes.
He said that if you step into these holes, the rip currents will pull your along the shore and back to sea.”
Eric Lavergne, US Border Patrol, said that this was just one of many migrant smuggling incidents recorded in his jurisdiction in this year.
The state of California and San Diego jointly own the beach. This stretch of sand is also known by Torrey Pines City Beach or Torrey Pines State Beach. It is one of the most remote beaches in the region.
Eddie Berrios, another coast guard confirmed that eight people were killed and teams were looking for seven more. People smugglers use pangas regularly in this area. San Diego is only miles from the border to Mexico.