Signs On San Diego

Photos show culvert that trapped group crossing into the U.S.

SAN YSIDRO, Calif. — Authorities revealed new details Saturday about a deadly water rescue near the San Diego-Mexico border.

Chief Patrol Agent Aaron Heitke said eight people were trying to cross into the U.S. around 4:15 p.m. Friday when they had to be pulled from a cross-border culvert near East San Ysidro Boulevard and Rail Court. Border Patrol officials said the group tried to swim into the U.S. through flooded drainage channels but got trapped.

One man drowned and Border Patrol agents revived a woman in the group, according to Heitke. Three people were taken to the hospital and four others were taken into custody by Border Patrol.

Agents said it’s relatively common to get calls about people trapped in border drainage systems with another rescue taking place earlier Friday.

“Smugglers know that we are going to have to raise the grates when it rains, because … there’s debris and all this trash and it comes through and traps the waters,” Border Patrol Supervisory Agent Jeff Stephenson said.

Officials say they have no choice but to raise the grates because of the storms. Agents said traffickers then convince people to cross under the extreme conditions.

“It’s just another example of how these smugglers don’t care about the people they are exploiting,” Stephenson said.

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