Three people died and dozens were injured when a boat suspected of smuggling undocumented passengers crashed off the coast of Point Loma last week, but the tragedy could have been far worse if lifeguards, U.S. Coast Guard and Border Patrol personnel, and several good Samaritans didn’t dive into action.
Among those good Samaritans was a Cale Foy, who was more than just in the right place at the right time. He was also the right rescue swimmer.
For Foy, a Navy First Class Petty Officer, Sunday’s rescue at sea is what he and his aircrew team practice daily. But when duty called, Foy was in Point Loma on his usual Sunday trail walk with his wife and kids.
The Coast Guard search was called off Monday morning, but the cleanup of debris from that 40-foot boat was still being collected, reported NBC 7’s Allison Ash
It was a mere coincidence that Foy was within 200 yards of the water when a suspected smuggling vessel with at least 32 people on board capsized inside the surf line.
Foy didn’t give it another thought, he just went to work.
“At that point, I took everything I had that I didn’t want to get wet, gave it to my wife and said I love you and I will be right back,” Foy said.
On his way to the water, Foy said he was joined by a man enrolled in Navy SEAL training.
The 40-foot cabin cruiser was out of fuel and was being torn apart by rocks in swells Foy estimated were 5 to 8 feet high.
“They hit the rocks and now they are starting to jump into the water,” he remembered. “The water was unforgiving that day.”
Foy and the SEAL trainee swam a quarter mile to the wreckage and held on to catch their breath.
“With the 5 to 8-foot waves going up and down, you are able to see maybe 10 to 15 feet around you. The swells overtake what is beyond the swell,” Foy explained.
Beyond the swell, 25 yards away, were three survivors shouting for help and trying to stay above water. There were two more 100 yards away, unconscious with their faces in the water.
“We practice and practice and practice for the wost scenario possible and hope for a good outcome,” Foy said.
Foy spent the next 20 minutes getting the remaining accident victims out of the water and into rescue boats.
Foy says the rescue swimmer motto is, “So others may live.” Thanks to his efforts, four of the half dozen people he plucked from the wreckage did.
In part of a statement, Naval Air Forces Force Master Chief Trenton Schmidt wrote,
“ASW1 Cale Foy represents the best of us. He saw people who desperately needed help, and he responded. We are extremely proud of him.”
The U.S. Border Patrol said there is every indication to believe the boat was a smuggling vessel used to traffic migrants into the U.S. illegally.
The captain of the boat was a male U.S. citizen, according to Customs and Border Protection. 30 of the passengers were Mexican Nationals and one was form Guatemala, CBP said.