2 suspected panga boats land at Laguna Beach

A suspected panga boat was abandoned at Victoria Beach on September 19. A resident’s security camera recorded occupants fleeing the beach. Photo courtesy of Chuck Kinder

Laguna Beach police responded to the landing of two Panga boats on local beaches on Sunday, a department spokesperson said.

At approximately 6:16 a.m., officers from Laguna Beach were dispatched to Crescent Bay Beach after receiving a possible Panga boat landing. Officers discovered an abandoned ship on shore and a Spanish-speaking woman hiding near the public restroom building, Laguna Beach police spokesman Lt. Jim Cota wrote in an email.

The woman was shivering in soaked clothes, looked sick, and said she had a headache and throat pain. She sought medical attention and was taken to Providence Mission Hospital in Laguna Beach for hypothermia treatment.

The Federal Marine Coordination Center in Long Beach was notified and Customs and Border Protection was dispatched. An officer planned to interview the detained woman at the hospital.

At 6:31 a.m. officers were dispatched to Victoria Beach regarding a possible second Panga boat landing. Officers found an abandoned ship and several life jackets strewn across the sand. A resident reviewed their security cameras and said the ship landed around 4:30 a.m. and several people fled the beach.

MCC coordinated the removal of the two vessels. The panga boats were removed from the beach on Sunday, a maritime security commander said. Both incidents are under investigation.

The Laguna Beach landings come as federal authorities grapple with a humanitarian crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border, with thousands of immigrants, mostly Haitians fleeing an earthquake-devastated country, crossing illegally across Del Rio, into the Texas. Meanwhile, law enforcement in Southern California is grappling with a reported increase in panga landings this year as far north as Santa Barbara County.

Life jackets, empty water bottles, a cooler and a car battery were found near a panga boat which landed on September 19 at Victoria Beach. Photo courtesy of Chuck Kinder

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Earnest A. Martinez