Harbor Patrol officer on Catalina killed in windstorm*

Catalina harbor scene in 2010.

A city of Avalon Harbor Patrol officer was killed in a windstorm last night when he was crushed between a boat and a rock at the Green Pleasure Pier, officials said today. The name of the officer has not yet been released.

High winds whipping across Santa Catalina Island on Tuesday night caused several boats to break loose of their moorings. John Etheridge, a Fountain Valley resident who owns property on the island, told ABC 7's Eyewitness News that the patrol officer was trying to save a vessel called King Neptune that was loose in the water. "When (the boat) hit the beach, it hit with a great deal of force and hit a couple of times and he was just thrown overboard," said Etheridge. "It was the most horrible thing I've ever seen."

According to Etheridge, a crowd of 30 to 40 people saw the incident from shore and frantically tried to save the officer.

Around the same time, a man believed to be in his 50s was also pulled from the water in the same area of Catalina. He died later at a hospital. The man has not been identified. A search is on for a third person reported to be missing in the aftermath of the windstorm.

7 p.m. update: The Harbor Patrol officer has been identified as Timothy Mitchell, 39, of Avalon. The older man found in the water has been identified as Bruce Ryder, 53.

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