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1 dead in suspected smuggling incident involving panga boat off La Jolla coast

Posted at 6:48 AM, May 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-20 20:07:37-04

LA JOLLA, Calif. (KGTV) -- One person died and several others were hospitalized after a panga boat involved a possible human smuggling attempt was spotted in the waters off La Jolla early Thursday morning.

Customs and Border Protection officials said a Border Patrol agent spotted a panga boat off the coast of Point Loma at around 5:10 a.m. traveling north with several passengers.

About 10 minutes later, San Diego Lifeguards and Border Patrol agents were called to the waters near the La Jolla Children’s Pool due to reports of people in the water in need of help.

One resident who lives nearby told ABC 10News he woke up to people screaming and saw several people in the water yelling for help.

Responding lifeguards were able to rescue at least 10 people from the water and brought them to a lifeguard station to be evaluated. San Diego Fire-Rescue Department officials said eight people were taken to area hospitals.

According to SDFD officials, the boat eventually crashed in an area known as Wipeout Beach, near the 700 block of Coast Boulevard. It was at that location in which one person was found in the water, and despite life-saving measures, the individual was pronounced dead at the scene.

CBP officials confirmed that there were 15 people taken into custody.