Point Loma

Man Accused of Piloting Boat in Fatal Crash That Killed Three Identified

Officials confirmed 32 people were aboard the boat when it crashed in the rough waters off Point Loma in San Diego on May 2

David Ramirez

A man who authorities said captained a boat that crashed in coastal waters near Point Loma during an apparent human-smuggling operation, killing three people and injuring more than two dozen others, is set to face federal charges related to attempted smuggling and an assault on a Border Patrol agent.

According to a complaint filed in San Diego federal court, Antonio Hurtado drove the vessel that crashed about 50 yards from the shore at around 10 a.m. Sunday.

No official date has been set on Hurtado's first court appearance.

Customs and Border Protection Supervisory Officer Javier Garcia said lifeguards were notified of a vessel experiencing trouble near the tidepools at Cabrillo National Monument.

The reporting party initially told dispatchers one person was on board, but the U.S. Coast Guard later said dozens were on board.

A rescue boat responded to the scene, but minutes later, the 40-foot trawler-style vessel crashed into the rocky shoreline and capsized, according to Border Patrol. All the occupants jumped in the water as the boat slowly disintegrated, a bystander's video showed.

Warning: The video below may contain graphic imagery

Video shows a vessel overturned and broken apart that was carrying 30 people in a possible human smuggling operation, officials said.

On Monday, after calling off a search for more potential victims at about 7:15 a.m., the U.S. Coast Guard updated its count to show that 32 people had been accounted for -- with 29 people found alive and three declared dead either at the scene or at local hospitals. One person remained in critical condition.

The three people killed -- later described as two women and one man -- were Mexican citizens. The San Diego County Medical Examiner's Office identified them Tuesday as 41-year-old Maria Eugenia Chavez-Segovia, 35-year-old Maricela Hernandez Sanchez and 29-year-old Victor Perez Degollado.

Hurtado and 29 others were taken to hospitals for treatment.

According to an affidavit, migrants who were aboard the boat said they paid between $15,000 and $18,500 to be smuggled into the United States and identified Hurtado as the vessel's captain.

The filing also alleged that while Border Patrol agents attempted to shackle Hurtado's ankle at the Imperial Beach Border Patrol Station, he struck an agent in the head with his knee, leaving the agent with "slight redness on his forehead and a burning sensation.''

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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