At least 8 dead, 7 missing in panga boat crash near San Diego beach

Xavier Roger


Boat salvager Robert Butler picks up a canister from a boat that capsized off Blacks Beach on March 12, 2023, in San Diego.

At least eight people were dead and a search was underway for more victims Sunday after a suspected human smuggling operation ended in tragedy off a San Diego beach, authorities said.

“This is one of the worst maritime smuggling tragedies that I can think of in California, certainly here in the city of San Diego,” said James Gartland, chief of the lifeguard division in San Diego.

Gartland said a Spanish-speaking woman called 911 at about 11:30 p.m. Saturday, saying she was on a panga boat with 15 people aboard that made it to the shore at Blacks Beach. The caller said another panga – relatively small fishing boats with outboard motor often used for smuggling operations – had capsized, and eight people were in the water.


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