Thirteen people were rescued by lifeguards off a beach in Sunset Cliffs on May 18 after a possible smuggling boat capsized in the surf. Two others were found atop a nearby cliff, officials said.
The vessel, an estimated 20-foot-long panga, was seen near Sunset Cliffs Boulevard and Ladera Street shortly before 7 a.m.
“As they were coming into the beach, they got caught in a wave and basically the front end sank, causing the boat to pitch over and capsize,” said San Diego Lifeguard Services Lt. Rick Romero. “When we arrived on scene, the boat was upside down and there were people on the secluded beach there.”
U.S. Border Patrol agents set up a perimeter and arrested two people who had climbed up the cliffs from the beach. The remaining 13 people stayed on the beach, where the tide was rising.
Lifeguards, responding with two boats and a personal watercraft, went to check on the condition of the people on the sand and found that no one was injured. They then transported the group onto a Coast Guard vessel.
Once all the people were removed from the beach, they were taken to Ballast Point in Point Loma, where they were met by Border Patrol agents, officials said.
Agents determined that 12 Mexican men, two Mexican women and one Honduran man, ranging in age from 19 to 57, were aboard the panga and that all 15 were in the United States illegally, said Border Patrol spokesman Jarrett Decker.
The group was taken to a local Border Patrol station for further processing.