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Inside a Doomed Panga Boat Journey from Tijuana to San Diego in May

Mexican migrant Eberardo, who survived the shipwreck of a 40-foot cabin cruiser carrying 32 migrants from Mexico to San Diego in May, poses for a photo near the border wall. REUTERS/Jorge Duenes

As the 40-foot cabin cruiser lurched for 12 hours on the Pacific on its dead-of-night journey to California from Tijuana, a Mexican migrant named Eberardo tried to keep the panicked passengers’ spirits up.

“Think of God and what you most love: a child, your mother,” Eberardo, 36, who was trying to get back to his family in the Midwest after being deported to Mexico, remembers saying. “Let that give you strength.”

Finally, the craggy California coastline grew closer.

“We are going to make it,” Eberardo told the 31 other passengers, all but one of them Mexican migrants like him who had paid a smuggler for the risky journey on that day in early May.

Then, as it was nearing Point Loma, the boat hit something — rocks or a strong wave.