Del Mar

13 Rescued in Panga ‘Dump and Run’ Off Coast of Del Mar, Some Unaccounted For

The incident is being investigated as a "dump and run," in which a panga dumped people in the water, then headed south, a fire official said

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State, federal and local authorities rescued more than a dozen people from a panga in an attempted "dump and run" off the coast of Del Mar early Friday; the search for others possibly still in the water pressed on throughout the morning.

At about 4:30 a.m., authorities received a call of people yelling in distress off the coast of Del Mar, according to the San Diego County Sheriff's Department (SDSO). At the scene, crews saw several people in the water and pulled them onto the shore.

Authorities are still searching for at least three people who may have evaded authorities in an early morning panga boat.

Authorities learned those individuals were involved in a "dump and run" from Mexico, according to Encinitas/Solana Beach/Del Mar Fire Chief Mike Stein. He said that method typically involved a panga smuggling individuals to the U.S. then dumping them at sea, leaving them to swim to shore.

U.S. Customs and Border Patrol said Encinitas lifeguards rescued three people by boat while 10 others were already onshore when first responders arrived.

All 13 individuals were taken to area hospitals for hypothermia before they were taken into custody by U.S. Border Patrol.

Solana Beach Fire Dept. Chief Robbie Ford said crews are still on the lookout for three more people possibly involved in the incident. CBP confirmed Border Patrol, Del Mar Lifeguards, SDSO and the U.S. Coast Guard continued to search for more people.

Encinitas/Solana Beach/Del Mar Fire Chief Mike Stein talks about the panga rescue off the coast of Del Mar, which he said was a suspected "dump and run," an operation in which smugglers try to get people into the country illegally.

It is unclear if those three made it to shore or remain at sea but he said a lifeboat was found floating in the water and authorities also found a life vest floating. Dive teams were actively searching through the water, which is as deep as 25 feet.

CBP said among the group were a 15-year-old girl, and 13- and 15-year-old boys. The rest were adults -- two women and three men -- and all were believed to be from Mexico.

Authorities believe the boat involved in the incident and two suspected smugglers returned to Mexico.

Multiple crews from 25 jurisdictions are participating in the search.

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