A routine fishing trip for four people on board the boat Sweet Marie quickly turned into a rescue mission.
Early Saturday, a sport fishing boat crashed into one of the Coronado Islands off the coast of Mexico.
The 63-foot Invicta struck rocks and was taking on water with 21 passengers and crew onboard.
Passenger Darian Fox boarded the boat Friday night for an annual fishing trip planned by employees of a San Diego-area plumbing company.
The trip came to an abrupt end when the boat crashed into the rocky shore of one of the Coronado Islands.
“The boat went full on collision with the islands,” Fox remembered. “It threw everybody and put everybody in a frenzy.”
Just over a mile away, John Rodriguez was the only person awake on his 35-foot boat Sweet Marie.
He and his 3-person crew were on their way to fish tuna when he heard a mayday call and saw a flare light up the sky.
“The sense of urgency at first for me wasn't that great until I realized how quickly they were sinking,” Rodriguez told NBC 7.
Sweet Marie arrived moments later to find everyone with life jackets on. But the current was too strong for them to get away from the rocky island on a life raft without help.
“That's when it really set in,” John’s wife Sandy Rodriguez said. “It's like 'Oh my gosh.'"
"Had we not been there, these people in those rafts would have been smashed into those rocks just like the big boat was.”
Coast Guard chopper video shows Invicta in pieces. But what you may not be able to see are all of the fishing poles, wallets, keys and other personal belongings that went down with the boat.
“It's eerie and eye opening to see in how little time things can go bad and I mean real bad,” Sandy Rodriguez said.
The Rodriguez family loaded all 26 people onto their own boat, making sure to distribute their weight evenly for the next hour or so until the Coast Guard Cutter Sea Otter took over the rescue.
The Coast Guard called the Sweet Marie crew a group of Good Samaritans.
“Not heroes just good Samaritans,” said Sandy Rodriguez. “In the hope that if we're ever in that situation, someone lends us a hand.”
“When you're on the water you respond. It's just something you do," John Rodriguez explained.
The Coast Guard has launched an investigation into the crash, though it could take months.
One passenger suffered a back injury, but declined medical treatment. Everyone else was unharmed.
NBC 7 reached out to H&M Landing in San Diego, a booking agency for boats. A rep from the Landing told NBC 7 Invicta was one of the boats booked out by the agency. All of the boats that go through the Landing are independently owned and operated, the rep said.