Fifteen hungry and tired Mexican nationals were plucked from Santa Cruz Island Sunday afternoon and handed to immigration officers waiting in Santa Barbara harbor.
Suspected of trying to enter the U.S. illegally, the group was left stranded on the island on July 8 without any food, water, or shelter, said Coast Guard spokesperson Petty Officer Adam Eggers in a phone interview from his Los Angeles office. They placed a frantic 911 call to the California Highway Patrol on the 8th that was routed to the Coast Guard, which then launched a joint search effort with the National Park Service. The original call stated there were four men in need of help, but the phone ran out of batteries soon after.
Despite a helicopter and Cutter Blackfin launched from Los Angles sweeping the area, authorities were unable to locate the group — comprised of 14 men and one woman between the ages of 30 and 40 — and an Urgent Marine Information Broadcast was sent out asking boaters near Santa Cruz Island to be on the lookout.
A call eventually came in on Sunday. “The cutter Blackfin and National Park Service personnel arrived on-scene and discovered there were 15 suspected migrants instead of the originally reported four,” said Eggers.
No other information on the incident is available at this point.