Officials identify 3 killed when suspected smuggling boat capsized

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SAN DIEGO — The three people killed when a suspected smuggling boat overturned off the coast of Point Loma were publicly identified Tuesday.

The San Diego County Medical Examiner’s Office identified the individuals as Maria Eugenia Chavez-Segovia, 41; Victor Perez Degollado, 29; and Maricela Hernandez Sanchez, 35.

The office determined drowning was the cause of death.

It happened in the water just west of Cabrillo National Monument around 10 a.m. During a news conference, San Diego Lifeguard Chief James Gartland said lifeguards initially got a call about a boat drifting toward the surf line. The boat then hit the reef and broke apart.

The San Diego Fire-Rescue Department said more than 100 emergency workers had rushed to the area for the rescue effort, with eight fire engines, 10 medics and other local personnel responding alongside members of the U.S. Coast Guard and other agencies.

Border Patrol officials said the boat was suspected of being part of a smuggling operation. “Every indication, from our perspective, is that this was a smuggling vessel used to smuggle migrants into the United States illegally” said Jeff Stephenson, a supervising agent with U.S. Border Patrol.

The Coast Guard suspended its search Monday morning and said 32 people were accounted for. Five of the 29 survivors were taken to the hospital, where one remained in critical condition Monday.

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