Body of San Diego Fisherman Found Days After Boat Capsizes in La Jolla

Tony Nguyen, 42, was lobster fishing with four friends aboard his boat Wednesday night at Windansea Beach in La Jolla when high surf caused his boat to capsize

After an extensive, 204-square-mile search Thursday, officials said they found the body of a San Diego fisherman missing at sea after his boat capsized.

On Wednesday evening, Tony Nguyen, 42, and four friends were lobster fishing aboard Nguyen’s 25-foot boat when a large wave capsized the vessel. Multiple agencies were called to the beach to launch a difficult rescue of the five men.

San Diego Lifeguards swam into the water and pulled two of the passengers safely to shore. Two others were rescued by lifeguards by boat, Lee Swanson of the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department (SDFD) confirmed. Surfers and Good Samaritans also reportedly helped.

The missing fisherman was with four others when their boat capsized in high surf off the coast of La Jolla. NBC 7’s Elena Gomez updates the search efforts.

The fifth man – Nguyen – was not immediately located. An overnight search for Nguyen ensued with little luck. The search pressed on Thursday, but Nguyen remained missing.

As of 5:24 p.m., the U.S. Coast Guard said its crews had suspended their search, as there was "no sign of the missing man."

On Friday at 11:45 a.m., San Diego Fire-Rescue officials said a body had been recovered near Palomar Avenue, near Windansea Beach.

NBC 7
The family of Tony Nguyen gathers with a police officer near the water's edge and several yards from the location of the body.

Officials said Nguyen was not wearing a life jacket at the time of the boating incident. His family said he does not know how to swim. Nguyen’s sister-in-law told NBC 7 Nguyen is an avid fisherman who goes out on his boat three to four times a week.

La Jolla resident Barbara Gray said the surf was strong at Windansea Beach when Nguyen’s boat capsized.

“They [the waves] were huge, really coming in quickly,” Gray described. “I’m sure it was a tough rescue.”

The U.S. Coast Guard aided in the rescue of the fishermen Wednesday night, launching a helicopter crew and two boat crews: the San Diego Sector MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter and the Coast Guard Cutter Sea Otter and Station San Diego Response vessel.

Coast Guard crews continued to search for Nguyen all day Thursday, along with crews from various other agencies including the SDFD, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, San Diego Mission Bay Lifeguards and the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department.

High surf conditions persisted, however, making it tough for lifeguards to conduct dive operations in the water. Instead, Coast Guard crews tackled the search by air, from Crystal Pier to La Jolla Cove. Other teams were scouring the water by boat. Some lifeguards walked onto access points and cliffs to see if they could see anything from those spots.

Eventually, Nguyen’s boat was found lodged in a cliff off Winamar and Camino de la Costa. Still, there was no trace of the missing man.

NBC 7’s Dave Summers was there after first responders pulled two men after their boat capsized.

Officials said the four other men who survived the rescue were wearing life jackets. They were all taken to local hospitals and released.

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