At least three people were killed and 27 were hospitalized when a boat overturned Sunday off the San Diego coast during a suspected human smuggling operation, authorities said.
San Diego fire officials and other agencies responded to a call Sunday morning that a commercial vessel looked to be in trouble, Fire Rescue lifeguard Lt. Rick Romero said in a news conference.
“Once we arrived on scene, the boat had been basically broken apart,” he said, adding that the boat was determined to be a 40-foot cabin cruiser with at least 30 people on board.
The first report from a commercial assistance vehicle said there were only three or four people on board. But once fire officials came to the scene, Romero said, that number turned into much more.
Rescue efforts pulled at least seven people from the water, including three that had drowned, Romero added. One person was rescued from a cliff and 22 others managed to make it to shore on their own, he said.
A total of 27 people were transported to hospitals with “a wide variety of injuries,” including hypothermia, Romero said. Most of the victims were able to walk themselves to ambulances, he said.