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1 dead, 7 injured in San Ysidro water rescue

SAN YSIDRO, Calif. – One person died and several others were injured Friday after being pulled from storm floodwaters in San Ysidro, local authorities said.

With the flooding waters swelling in the drainage channels, Border Patrol officials say a group of people attempted to use the floodwaters to swim into the U.S. Just before 4:15 p.m. Friday, San Diego firefighters were requested to rescue an individual stuck in a grate in the water in the area of East San Ysidro Boulevard and Rail Court.

Rescuers say at least one adult man died after becoming trapped in the grate during the attempted crossing. Three of the people rescued were taken to the hospital and four others were taken into custody by Border Patrol. None have been publicly identified.

“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,” said Border Patrol Supervisory Agent Jeff Stephenson.

Agents say it’s relatively common to receive calls of people trapped in border drainage systems, having already rescued another man earlier in the day.

The swelling, unpredictable waters can be lethal.

“That water level goes up and down throughout the day,” said San Diego Fire-Rescue Department Battalion Chief Robert Allen.

Officials say they have no choice but to raise the grates because of the storms. Border agents, in turn, say traffickers convince people to cross under extreme conditions.

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