Videos: Pieces wash ashore at Windansea in La Jolla after boat suspected of smuggling migrants breaks apart

A Coast Guard helicopter hovers above the water Oct. 13 at Windansea Beach in La Jolla where pieces of a boat washed ashore.
(James Rudolph)

Customs and Border Protection says the boat sank near the shore after smashing into rocks.


U.S. Customs and Border Protection said debris that La Jolla residents found washing ashore at Windansea Beach the morning of Oct. 13 came from a small boat suspected to have been used to smuggle migrants into the United States illegally.

Windansea resident Eric Fletcher said he saw a Coast Guard helicopter above the water as he took his children to school.

“On my way home I drove by the beach and saw debris in the water,” he said. He parked and walked to the beach at Rosemont Street, where he saw several life jackets on the ground.

“Everyone was hoping that meant the occupants all made it to shore safely,” Fletcher said.

Customs and Border Protection said the boat, called a panga, broke apart and sank near the shore after smashing into rocks and taking on water. No one from the boat was apprehended, CBP said.

La Jollan James Rudolph said he saw the Coast Guard helicopter “hovering overhead searching for swimmers amid the flotsam and jetsam.” He said he also saw the life preservers onshore.

Several people took to social media to post videos of the scene.

In April, a small boat with several life jackets was found onshore in La Jolla near Whale View Point. Another was found in July in Bird Rock.

A migrant died in May 2021 off La Jolla during a maritime smuggling journey aboard a panga-style boat carrying 16 people. Two men who admitted co-piloting the boat later pleaded guilty to human smuggling. ◆


3:53 p.m. Oct. 13, 2022: This article was updated with information from U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

1:03 p.m. Oct. 13, 2022: This article was updated with videos.