Authorities identify last of eight people killed in Black’s Beach boat disaster

One of two pangas involved in a crash that left eight migrants dead March 11 sits on Black's Beach the next morning.
(Nelvin C. Cepeda / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Six of the eight victims were from the Mexican state of Puebla, officials say.


Authorities released the names of the final two people who were among eight Mexican migrants who died last month when two human-smuggling boats capsized off Black’s Beach in La Jolla.

The San Diego County medical examiner’s office identified them April 19 as Arturo Valerio Rueda, 33, and Angel Gomez Lopez, 29.

Both were from the Mexican state of Puebla, southeast of Mexico City, according to the Consulate General of Mexico in San Diego.

The six victims who were identified previously were Alma Rosa Figueroa Gorgonio, 17; Yecenia Lazcano Soriano, 22; Ana Jacqueline Figueroa Perez, 23; Guillermo Suarez Gonzalez, 23; Eloy Hernandez Baltazar, 48; and Paul Diaz Lopez, 50. Four of them were from Puebla, one was from the capital city and the other was from Jalisco.

Their deaths — all from drowning, according to the medical examiner’s office — occurred around 11:30 p.m. March 11. That’s when a Spanish-speaking woman called 911 and reported that she and other people on her boat had made it to shore but a second boat had overturned.

Lifeguards and other emergency crews dealt with cold, fog, darkness and high tides as they responded to the bottom of the bluffs south of the Torrey Pines Gliderport.

There they found two capsized pangas and bodies strewn across the sand and floating in shallow water. They found no survivors, leading officials to believe that some people aboard the boats fled before crews arrived. A search for other potential victims came up empty.

Families of Mexican migrants who died in an ill-fated boat crossing attempt at Black’s Beach in La Jolla learned of the tragedy through anonymous phone calls, social media and humanitarian groups.

Mexico’s government is covering the costs of getting the victims’ bodies back to their hometowns, according to a statement from Carlos González Gutiérrez, the consul general of Mexico in San Diego. He said the Black’s Beach tragedy should raise “awareness about the dangers our nationals face when crossing the border undocumented.” ◆