Woman drowns, 13 people pulled from water at US-Mexico border barrier

October 31, 2021
Ocean water sprays through the border fence as the tide rolls in at Border Field State Park on February 13, 2017 in San Diego, CA.

One woman drowned and 13 people were pulled from the water after up to 70 people attempted to illegally enter the United States from Tijuana by swimming around the barrier at Border Field State Park in San Diego, federal officials say. 

U.S. Border Patrol agents found the woman unresponsive early Saturday after being notified that dozens of immigrants were attempting the swim, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said in a statement.

The agents performed CPR themselves and brought in a San Diego Fire-Rescue emergency medical services team, but the woman was pronounced dead at the scene, the statement said. The San Diego Medical Examiner took custody of the body.

The Coast Guard then rescued 13 people from the water. The Border Patrol, Coast Guard, San Diego fire crews and California State Parks officers conducted a search of the area and took 36 Mexican nationals into custody, including 25 men and 11 women.

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“This is yet another example of the ruthless tactics smuggling organizations use to bolster their power and profits.” San Diego Sector’s Chief Patrol Agent Aaron Heitke said. “We will work tirelessly to pursue and bring to justice those responsible for this tragedy.” 

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Border deaths were up sharply in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30. The 557 total was more than double 2020’s 254 fatality total. And those totals represent only bodies recovered with Border Patrol involvement. Oher state and local agencies also recover bodies, so the number of deaths is likely higher.

Border Field State Park marks the southwestern corner of the United States, 15 miles south of San Diego. The wildlife habitat includes sand dunes and salt marshes. But the park’s website “does not recommend swimming or wading, due to hazardous conditions, such as inshore holes, rip currents, and the lack of lifeguard service within the park.”

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