1 dead, more than a dozen others detained after smuggling boat came ashore in La Jolla

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – One person died and 15 people were in custody this morning after a suspected smuggling boat dropped its passengers off the coast of La Jolla, authorities said.

At about 5:10 a.m., a Border Patrol agent spotted a panga boat traveling northbound off the coast near Point Loma, said Jeffrey Stephenson of Customs and Border Protection’s public affairs office.

Additional agents responded to the area to intercept the vessel, but about 10 minutes later, agents onshore spotted several people from the boat in distress in the water near La Jolla Children’s Pool, off the 800 block of Coast Boulevard, Stephenson said.

At about 5:30 a.m., lifeguards responded to the 300 block of Marine Street after receiving a report that some of the boat’s occupants were in the water near the 300 block of Marine Street, said San Diego Fire-Rescue spokeswoman Monica Munoz.

Lifeguards rescued 10 people in “rough water conditions,” Munoz said. Several of those people were wearing life vests, she said.

Eight of the 10 people were taken to hospitals for treatment of unknown injuries, Munoz said.

The panga boat continued up the coast and crashed at Wipeout Beach, near the 700 block of Coast Boulevard, she said. One person was found submerged in the water at that location.

Emergency personnel performed CPR, but that person was pronounced dead at the scene, she said. No details about the victim were immediately available.

A total of 15 people from the suspected smuggling boat were in custody Thursday morning, Stephenson said.

Authorities gave an update on the incident at 10:00 AM Thursday:

La Jolla Illegal Smugglers

Authorities detain the passengers of the suspected smuggling boat.


The San Diego Lifeguards published the following press release detailing the incident:

On May 20, 2021 at about 5:30 a.m., SD Fire-Rescue Lifeguard Division dispatch received a phone call from a US Customs & Border Patrol agent who indicated that there were people in the water from a boat off the coast in the area of 300 Marine Street.

Lifeguards sent a boat with two lifeguards from Lifeguard Headquarters and two lifeguards from SDFD station 13 in La Jolla. These four and the lifeguard dispatcher at HQ are the lifeguards on duty overnight. The lifeguards responded from the water and in vehicles and additional lifeguards who were not on duty were called in. Lifeguards rescued ten individuals in rough water conditions.

A few were wearing personal flotation devices (life vests). These patients were brought to Lifeguard HQ in boats and were met by ambulances and fire crews. Patients were evaluated and eight were transported from Lifeguard HQ to four local hospitals. Once these patients are transported, SDFD doesn’t have access to the status of the patients because of health privacy laws.

The boat continued to the coast near 700 Coast Blvd. and crashed onto an area called Wipeout Beach. One individual was found submerged at this location. The patient was brought to shore and CPR was performed but the patient did not survive. The patient was pronounced deceased at the scene. As of 8 a.m., the SDPD, Customs & Border Patrol and the medical examiner are at that scene.

US Coast Guard, Customs and Border Patrol, SDFD Lifeguards, SD Police and SD Harbor PD were the agencies on this incident. Please reach out to the following contacts for details on those in custody and the investigation of the incident. SDFD does not have the total count of those individuals on the boat. Customs is the agency tracking those in custody and at local hospitals.

Panga In La Jolla

Panga boat carrying the people suspected of illegally entering the country on the shore in La Jolla, California.


Categories: Good Morning San Diego, Local San Diego News