Terrell Horne, 34, Coast Guard petty officer killed by smugglers *

the-halibut.jpgCoast Guard Chief Petty Officer Terrell Horne III, 34, of Redondo Beach was the executive petty officer, or second in command, on the Marina del Rey-based cutter Halibut (left.) He died early Sunday morning after a panga carrying suspected smugglers rammed his inflatable boat in the dark near Santa Cruz Island, off the Ventura County coast. Horne suffered a head injury and was thrown into the ocean. The Halibut raced him to shore but Horne was pronounced dead about 2:20 this morning at Port Hueneme.

From the Ventura County Star:

Members on the Coast Guard cutter Halibut were investigating a panga suspected of illegal activities. The cutter deployed a smaller boat to approach the panga, according to Coast Guardsman Adam Eggers.

As the Coast Guard approached the panga with its lights flashing, the panga moved toward the Guard members quickly, officials said. The panga hit the Coast Guard boat, throwing two members in the water. They were quickly recovered, officials said.

Eggers said one member suffered a traumatic head injury and the other had minor injuries....

Additional Coast Guard crews thwarted the escape of the fleeing panga. Two suspects were detained, officials said.

More media coverage: LA Times, AP, CBS LA, NBC 4, ABC 7

"We are deeply saddened by the loss of our shipmate. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends, and his shipmates aboard Coast Guard Cutter Halibut,” Coast Guard Commandant, Admiral Robert J. Papp, said a news release. “We are focused on supporting them during this very difficult time. Our fallen shipmate stood the watch on the front lines protecting our nation and we are all indebted to him for his service and sacrifice. Finally, I commend the responding Coast Guard and Customs and Border Protection units whose quick actions led to the successful interdiction and apprehension of those believed to be involved.”

From the release:

The Coast Guard Cutter Halibut was investigating a panga-type vessel suspected of illicit activities. The vessel was initially detected by a Coast Guard maritime patrol aircraft.

The cutter deployed its small boat which made an approach on the suspect vessel, which was running darkened ship, meaning it was operating without any navigational running lights or other illumination. When the Coast Guard small boat approached with its blue law enforcement light energized, the suspect vessel, identified to be a profile Mexican style panga, maneuvered at a high rate of speed directly towards the Coast Guard small boat and struck it before fleeing the scene.

Two Coast Guard members were thrown from the boat into the water, and both members were immediately recovered by the Coast Guard small boat. Upon recovery it appeared one member sustained a traumatic head injury and the other had minor injuries.

The cutter crew quickly recovered the small boat and boarding team, and immediately administered first aid to the injured crewmembers. Halibut made its way to Port Hueneme, Calif., where emergency medical service units met the cutter at the pier and pronounced one injured crew member deceased.

Additional Coast Guard assets were able to stop the fleeing panga, and detained two suspects.

uscgc-halibu-logo.jpgThe Halibut was built at Bollinger Shipyards in Lockport, Louisiana and was commissioned on April 26, 2002 at Marina Del Rey, says the Coast Guard. Halibut, an 87-foot Marine Protector Class patrol vessel, has as its primary missions search and rescue, maritime law enforcement and homeland security. Secondary missions include marine environmental protection and public affairs.

* 10:30 p.m. update: On Channel 9's news, a neighbor says that Horne leaves behind a young daughter and a wife who is pregnant.

Photo of Halibut and the unit's logo: United States Coast Guard

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