Daily US Times: A packed boat broke apart and capsized on Sunday in powerful surf along the rocky San Diego coast, killing 3 people and injuring more than two dozen others, authorities have confirmed. The boat was being used in a suspected human smuggling operation.
According to the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department, lifeguards, the US Coast Guard and other agencies responded around 10:30 a.m. following reports of an capsized boat in the waves near the rugged peninsula of Point Loma.
The original call was for a handful of individual overboard but as rescuers arrived in jet skis and boats they quickly realized “it was going to be a bigger situation with more people,” said Lt. Rick Romero of San Diego Lifeguard Service.
He said: “There are people in the water, drowning, getting sucked out the rip current there.”
Romero said that seven people were pulled from the waves, including three who drowned. One person was rescued from a cliff, he said, and 22 others managed to make it to shore on their own.
He said when they arrived on scene, the boat had basically been broken apart. “Conditions were pretty rough: 5 to 6 feet of surf, windy, cold,” Romero said.
A total of 27 people were transported to hospitals with “a wide variety of injuries” including hypothermia.
Most of the victims were able to walk themselves to ambulances, according to Romero.
Officials said the group was overcrowded on a 12-meter cabin cruiser that is larger than the typical open-top wooden panga-style boats often used by smugglers to bring people illegally into the United States from Mexico.