Man dies in smuggling attempt in rough surf off La Jolla

SAN DIEGO - One person apparently drowned and up to seven others may have tried to enter the United States through the rough surf off La Jolla overnight, firefighters said Sunday.

Lifeguards were called to the rocks just north of Tourmaline Beach at about 11 p.m. Saturday on a report of a person yelling from the water, San Diego Fire-Rescue Department spokeswoman Monica Munoz said.

A rescue boat crew found a 32-year-old man from Mexico swimming and hauled him to shore, authorities said. The man told lifeguards there were more people in the water.

Lifeguards called other agencies for help after spotting a boat with the potential of other people off the coast, Border Patrol Agent Tekae Michael said.  The San Diego Police Department, Border Patrol and Coast Guard were notified, Munoz said.

The man found by lifeguards was treated for hypothermia at a hospital and handed over to the Border Patrol, Michael said.

On the shore, a man with no pulse was found around 1 a.m., Michael said. He was pronounced dead.

Lifeguards determined the others may have swum ashore and ran into the nearby neighborhoods. One boogie board was found abandoned, Munoz said.

Coast Guard Petty Officer Joel Guzman said the cutter Petrel searched the area for debris, but was unable to find anything. The smuggling boat was believed to have returned to Mexican waters.

"This is something that we see commonly coming from Mexico. Organizations use panga boats to transport humans in to US from Mexico," said Michael.

Guzman said the Petrel, a small boat and a helicopter were continuing to search the area Sunday.