2 suspected panga boats land in Laguna Beach

A suspected panga boat was abandoned at Victoria Beach on Sept. 19. A resident’s security camera recorded occupants fleeing the beach. Photo courtesy of Chuck Kinder

Laguna Beach police responded to the landings of two Panga boats at local beaches Sunday, a department spokesperson said.

Around 6:16 a.m., Laguna Beach officers were dispatched to Crescent Bay Beach after receiving a possible Panga boat landing. Officers discovered one abandoned vessel on the shore and a Spanish-speaking woman hiding near the public restroom building, Lt. Jim Cota, a Laguna Beach police spokesperson, wrote in an email.

The woman was shivering in soaked clothing, appeared ill, and said she had a headache and sore throat. She asked for medical treatment and was taken to Providence Mission Hospital Laguna Beach for treatment of hypothermia.

The federal Maritime Coordination Center in Long Beach was notified and Customs and Border Protection were dispatched. An agent planned to interview the detained woman at the hospital.

At 6:31 a.m. officers were dispatched to Victoria Beach regarding a second possible Panga boat landing. Officers found an abandoned vessel and several life jackets scattered on the sand. A resident reviewed their security cameras and said the vessel landed around 4:30 a.m. and several people ran from the beach.

MCC coordinated the removal of both vessels. The panga boats were taken off the beach on Sunday, a Marine Safety commander said. Both incidents are under investigation.

The Laguna Beach landings come as federal officials face a humanitarian crisis on the U.S.-Mexico border, with thousands of immigrants, primarily Haitians fleeing an earthquake-battered country, illegally crossing into Del Rio, Texas. Meanwhile, Southern California law enforcement agencies are grappling with a reported uptick in panga landings this year as far north as Santa Barbara County.

Life jackets, empty water bottles, a cooler, and a car battery were found near a panga boat that landed on Sept. 19 at Victoria Beach. Photo courtesy of Chuck Kinder
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  1. A “panga” is by definition an open traditional Mexican fishing boat, very basic, without decking. The vessel shown in the photo is a cabin cruiser. The difference matters.

  2. I’m not sure they know the difference Dale they just slap a stock photo in there. I do have another comment for Mr. Langhorne . I suggest you look into the origin of the Haitians because you paint a picture as if they’re escaping tragedy. In fact most of them have been residing in South America.

  3. Dale, using the word “panga” conjures up your incorrect definition, but according to my friends at Merriam-Webster, a panga is “any of various small boats often used for fishing specifically : a skiff with a raised bow that is typically powered by an outboard motor.”

    Could have said skiff or motorboat, but “panga” adds to the drama and makes it sound unfamiliar and more “foreign.” Subtle but effective, sadly.


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