17-year-old girl is identified as among eight people who died in human-smuggling disaster at Black’s Beach

Surfers walk past one of two pangas that overturned in the ocean off Black’s Beach late March 11.
Surfers walk past one of two pangas that overturned in the ocean off Black’s Beach late March 11 in what authorities described as a human-smuggling attempt.
(Nelvin C. Cepeda / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

The consul general of Mexico in San Diego says three victims identified earlier were from the Mexican state of Puebla. Authorities are working to identify four remaining victims.


A 17-year-old girl was identified March 15 as one of eight people who died after two boats capsized off Black’s Beach in La Jolla late March 11 in what authorities said was a human-smuggling attempt. Local authorities called it one of the deadliest maritime events in San Diego history.

Alma Rosa Figueroa Gorgonio was the latest victim to be identified. The San Diego County medical examiner’s office determined that she drowned in the ocean south of the Torrey Pines Gliderport.

Officials call it ‘one of the most deadly maritime events in San Diego’s history.’

The medical examiner’s office identified three of the victims March 14: Yecenia Lazcano Soriano, 22, Guillermo Suarez Gonzalez, 23, and Eloy Hernandez Baltazar, 48. All three drowned, the office said.

All four of the identified victims were from the Mexican state of Puebla, according to the Consulate General of Mexico in San Diego. The consulate said it has notified the families and offered assistance in returning the bodies to Mexico.

Medical examiner’s investigators are continuing to work to identify the remaining victims with the help of the consulate.

A representative of the consulate said this week that at least seven of the eight victims were presumed to be citizens of Mexico based on identification they had on them.

Few details about the victims were available.

Lazcano, a single mother, was a native of Tehuacán in Puebla, according to William Murillo, a New York-based legal consultant who assists migrants. She was headed to the United States in hopes of finding work. Murillo said he has been in touch with her family.

Murillo said Lazcano’s family and the family of a 39-year-old man contacted his legal consulting firm,, to ask for help in finding their relatives. Both families had received phone calls from someone who notified them that their family members had been on a boat that overturned. The caller then hung up.

When the families called back, no one picked up, Murillo said. The families saw news of the disaster in San Diego and worried.

Murillo said it is common for smugglers to deliver terrible news, then “vanish” so they aren’t contacted again, leaving families with little information and a great deal of anguish.

The family of the missing man had not received information about his fate as of March 14, Murillo said.

According to the families Murillo spoke to, several migrants from Santiago Miahuatlán in southeast Puebla were among the group of passengers on the two boats that capsized.

San Diego lifeguards and other emergency crews discovered the victims in the water and along the sand at Black’s Beach after a Spanish-speaking woman called 911 about 11:30 p.m. March 11. The woman said she and seven others were on a boat that made it to shore while eight to 15 others were on a second boat that capsized.

Lifeguards found two overturned pangas and no survivors, leading officials to believe some people fled before crews arrived.

A search for any additional victims was launched, but no other bodies were found during the efforts, which were hampered by fog and other weather conditions, officials said.

“This is one of the worst maritime smuggling tragedies that I can think of in California, and certainly here in the city of San Diego,” San Diego Fire-Rescue Department Lifeguard Chief James Gartland said the morning after the crash. ◆


12:09 p.m. March 15, 2023: This article was updated with the identification of Alma Rosa Figueroa Gorgonio.