VENTURA, Calif. (AP) — A suspected smuggling vessel rammed a U.S. Coast Guard chase boat off the Southern California coast, killing one Coast Guard member and injuring another, authorities said.
Chief Petty Officer Terrell Horne III, 34, of Redondo Beach, was pronounced dead Sunday after he was brought ashore at Port Hueneme, said James Baroni, Ventura County chief deputy medical examiner.
Horne suffered a traumatic head injury in the crash near the Channel Islands west of Malibu, Coast Guard officials said.
The second man was treated for minor injuries. His name wasn't released.
A Coast Guard aircraft spotted a panga — a small Mexican-style fishing boat often used by smugglers — before dawn and the cutter Halibut was sent to intercept it, officials said.
The cutter deployed a smaller inflatable chase boat but as that vessel approached the panga with its blue light flashing, the panga veered toward it at high speed and struck it before fleeing.
Horne and another crewman were thrown into the water.
Another Coast Guard vessel stopped the fleeing panga and detained two suspects.
"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," said Admiral Robert J. Papp, Coast Guard Commandant.
The small Coast Guard boat was deployed by the cutter Halibut, which was conducting an investigation into suspected smuggling.
The smuggler's vessel was initially detected by a Coast Guard maritime patrol aircraft.