Twenty migrants were rescued by Border Patrol agents from a drainage tube near the U.S.-Mexico border, and a woman was found dead on the beach, when heavy rains fell on Thanksgiving night in San Diego, officials said Friday.
Around 11 p.m. Thursday, San Diego Sector Border Patrol agents discovered three migrants trying to enter the United States illegally near the border drainage tube located about two miles west of the San Ysidro Port of Entry, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection said in a news release.
During the initial rescue, the three people told border agents there were more migrants inside the drainage tube. Agents called in the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department for help because the water inside the drainage tube was quickly rising due to the heavy rainfall at the time, officials said.
Responding border agents could hear people yelling for help.
One woman was pulled to safety and she also told border agents that there were still more people who had fallen into the drainage tube that needed help.
The Border Patrol agents rescued 13 people by using an access manhole, officials said, and cleared the drainage tube just before midnight.
“The lifesaving efforts of these agents, who bravely risk their own lives to save others, makes me proud,” Chief Patrol Agent Douglas Harrison said in a statement. “Inclement weather conditions and perilous drainage pipe water flows, significantly increase the odds of a grim outcome.”
Seventeen people were medically evaluated and seven were taken to a nearby hospital for medical attention after being found inside the drainage tube.
Later at around 1 a.m. Friday, agents heard another woman yelling for help from the same drainage tube where the migrants were rescued late Thursday.
Agents rescued the woman and also found two people near the tube’s exit.
The woman was taken to a hospital for treatment.
Officials said of the 20 people rescued on Thursday and Friday, 16 were men, three were women and one was a juvenile.
Early Monday, a border patrol agent also found a deceased woman on the beach near the west end of the Tijuana river mouth at about 2:40 a.m., officials said.
It’s unknown if the woman’s death is related to the smuggling incidents, officials said.
Her death is under investigation by the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department.
“These dangers are not important considerations to smugglers, who place an emphasis on profit over their victims’ safety,” Harrison added. “Simply put, it not worth crossing the border illegally and risking one’s life.”