A Spanish-speaking woman on one of the panga-style boats called 911 Saturday night to report the other vessel overturned in waves at Black's Beach, authorities said. She said there were 15 people on the capsized vessel and eight on hers.
Coast Guard and San Diego Fire-Rescue crews pulled bodies of eight adults from the water, but fog hampered the search for additional victims.
Recovery efforts resumed Sunday but no additional bodies were found. The Coast Guard announced on Twitter that the search was suspended at 3:30 p.m.
Survivors may have escaped on land, including the woman who called 911. Authorities did not know her whereabouts.
San Diego Lifeguard Chief James Gartland said rescuers found the two boats overturned in shallow waters when they arrived. Surf was modest, with swells around 3 feet, but skies were foggy and black.
“That area is very hazardous, even in the daytime," Gartland said at a news conference. "It has a series of sandbars and in-shore rip currents, so you can think that you can land in some sand or get to waist-high, knee-high water and think that you’re able to be safe to exit the water, but there’s long, in-shore holes. If you step into those holes, those rip currents will pull you along the shore and back out to sea.”
Black's Beach is about 15 miles north of downtown San Diego in a secluded area not far from the popular La Jolla Shores. Its reputation for some of the best breaks in Southern California draws many surfers.
At least some of Saturday's victims were Mexican, according to the consulate in San Diego, but how many was unknown. Illegal crossings have soared under President Joe Biden, with many migrants turning themselves in to Border Patrol agents and being released in the United States to pursue their cases in immigration court.