U.S. Border Patrol agents found the woman unresponsive early Saturday after being told the immigrants were trying to swim, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said in a statement.
The agents conducted CPR themselves and brought in San Diego Fire-Rescue Emergency Medical Services team, but the woman was pronounced dead at the scene, the statement said. The San Diego Medical Examiner took care of the body.
The Coast Guard then saved 13 people from the water. The Border Patrol, Coast Guard, San Diego Fire crews, and California State Parks Officers searched the area and took 36 Mexican nationals into custody, including 25 men and 11 women. The fate of the immigrants taken out of the water was not immediately known.
“This is yet another example of the ruthless tactics smuggling organizations use to bolster their power and profits,” said Chief Patrol Agent Aaron Heitke of the Border Patrol's San Diego Sector.
Border deaths were up in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30. The 557 total was more than double 2020's 254 fatalities. And those totals represent only bodies recovered with Border Patrol involvement. Other state and local agencies also recover bodies, so the number of deaths is likely higher.
Border Field State Park marks the southwestern corner of the United States, 15 miles south of San Diego. The wildlife habitat includes sand dunes and salt marshes. The park's website "does not recommend swimming or wading, due to hazardous conditions, such as inshore holes, rip currents, and the lack of lifeguard service within the park."
In March, a Honduran mother of two drowned in the same waters. Yuri Rios attempted with her brother-in-law, José Dueñas, who survived the swim.
The dark, foreboding border barrier, about 12 feet high, stretches to about 300 feet into the Pacific Ocean between the park and a Tijuana beach. The park has floodlights, agents on ATVs, observation towers, and night-vision cameras to dissuade migrants from illegally accessing the United States.
Visitors to the park are not permitted to advance the fencing except for a section called Friendship Park, a meeting place for families and loved ones on each side of the fence for decades. Some people travel several hours for short meetings. Friendship Park is only open on weekends, 10 am to 2 pm, and the Border Patrol limits the number of visitors permitted in the park and may check IDs.