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3 dead, 25 hospitalized after boat overturns off San Diego coast

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pt loma vessel
Posted at 1:54 PM, May 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-03 16:27:41-04

Three people are dead and several others are injured after a vessel overturned in the waters off Point Loma Sunday morning, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

The Coast Guard reported rescue efforts were launched near the Point Loma Tide Pools in the Cabrillo National Monument at around 10:30 a.m. following reports that a 40-foot, trawler-style boat capsized. A total of 92 personnel were assigned to the scene, including eight engines and 10 medics, KGTV learned.

Coast Guard officials on Monday confirmed 32 people were on the vessel when it overturned. Officials said 29 people survived, with five survivors taken to area hospitals for treatment. One of those people remains in critical condition.

Three people were declared dead by the San Diego County Medical Examiner's Office, the Coast Guard said.

Coast Guard officials said they suspended their search efforts, and KGTV learned the Mexican Consulate was working to find out if any of the boat occupants have ties to Mexico.

The boat was possibly being used to transport undocumented people into the United States, according to Jeffery Stephenson of the Customs and Border Protection Public Affairs Office.

Eyewitness video shot by a bystander who watched from shore showed several people jumping from the boat into rough waters and others struggling to swim to land. The 40-foot boat quickly broke up in the 5- to 6-feet of surf, creating a large swath of debris, the video showed. Some of the passengers were seen standing in waist-deep water searching through debris for some of the other passengers.

The tide pools at Cabrillo National Monument were closed as a result of the incident.

Sunday's incident comes four days since federal authorities detained 21 Mexican nationals after a panga boat was stopped off about eleven miles west of the Point Loma shoreline.

"We've seen a dramatic increase in the number of maritime smuggling attempts recently," said Aaron Heitke, Chief Patrol Agent of the Border Patrol’s San Diego Sector. "All of these illegal crossings at sea are inherently dangerous, and we have seen too many turn from risky to tragic as smugglers sacrifice the safety of those on board for the sake of profits."

So far this fiscal year, the Border Patrol has documented 157 maritime smuggling events in the San Diego area, according to CBP officials.

This story was originally published by Zac Self and Mario Sevilla at KGTV.