SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — The Coast Guard rescued 25 people stranded on a boat 100 miles off the San Diego coast Friday morning.
According to the Coast Guard, those rescued were stranded for approximately three days before a good Samaritan notified authorities.
That good Samaritan is a local captain who said he was in the right place at the right time.
Captain Markus Medak told ABC 10News that he was on day one of a three-day fishing trip. As the crew caught tuna early in the morning on the first day of the trip, Medak says he saw faint lights in the distance.
Thursday night, Captain Medak and his boat, the "New Lo-An" took off from the Point Loma Sportfishing Landing to catch blue fish tuna.
Captain Medak said around 1 a.m Friday they were about 100 miles west of Point Loma, 25 miles behind San Clemente Island.
“Had a stop where we caught a few nice fish," he explained. "And right after we wrapped off that stop I knew there was one other boat in the area, and I looked around in the area to see where his lights were," said Captain Medak. "And I could see a couple of dim lights away from us.”
Those lights came from the 25 passengers aboard a panga-style boat, which was stranded for three days. According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, there were a total of 23 Mexican nationals and two people from Guatemala. All those on the boat were later transferred into the custody of US Customs and Border Protection.
Captain Medak shared that when he saw the stranded individuals, he could barely make them out due to rough conditions at sea.
“I feel really fortunate that we found them when we did. And I think one more night it would have had a tragic ending, and I feel that pretty strongly.”
As they waited for the Coast Guard to arrive, the "New Lo-An" crew gave those aboard the vessel food and rope.
The US Coast Guard has rescued other capsizes in recent months. In July, eight suspected smugglers were rescued near Encinitas. In May of this year, 23 people were rescued from a suspected smuggling boat near Sunset Cliffs.
While it's unknown how the boat became stranded, Captain Medak said was just glad he was there.
“If I had been on a boat broken down out there it sure would be nice if someone would bump into me. I feel a little bit of good karma coming our way.”
Captain Medak said the US Coast Guard met them swiftly and worked through complex conditions to rescue all the individuals. The crew of the "New Lo-An" was able to continue their journey and took off for another trip Sunday afternoon.
@USCGPacificSW #BravoZulu to the #USCG Cutter Tern crewmembers for rescuing 25 persons from a stranded boat about 100 miles west of Point Loma on Friday morning. The passengers were stranded for approximately three days when a good samaritan notified the #CoastGuard #SanDiego pic.twitter.com/WZnrQv88cn
— USCGPacificSouthwest (@USCGPacificSW) October 22, 2021