Four people died and more than two dozen others were hospitalized Sunday after
a wooden boat capsized and splintered just off the San Diego coast during
a suspected human smuggling operation.
Officials said the dead include two women and one man, authorities have not released
the gender of the fourth victim. The vessel, a 40-foot cabin cruiser, “broke apart”
on a reef near Point Loma, west of downtown San Diego said Lt. Rick Romero of
the San Diego Lifeguard Service. The incident occurred around 10 a.m.
NSL Learnt, an eighth person was rescued from a cliff, while 22 other people managed
to make their way to the shore on their own.
Lt. Rick Romero told The Associated Press that seven people were pulled from the
rough water, including three who drowned.
“Once we arrived on the scene, the boat had basically been broken apart.
“Conditions were pretty rough: five to six feet of surf, windy, cold.”
The 27 people transported to area hospitals for medical treatment reported a
“wide variety of injuries,” including hypothermia, but most were able to walk to the
waiting for ambulances under their own power, Romero said.
Jeff Stephenson, a supervising agent with U.S. Border Patrol, confirmed that
the group was overcrowded on a 40-foot cabin cruiser.
“Every indication from our perspective was this was a smuggling vessel. We haven’t
confirmed their nationality,” Stephenson said.
Border Patrol agents are currently preparing to interview survivors, including the
boat’s captain who Stephenson described as a “suspected smuggler