Coast Guard officer killed by suspected drug smuggler's boat

By Chris Francescani NEW YORK Mon Dec 3, 2012 5:17am EST

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By Chris Francescani NEW YORK (Reuters) - A Coast Guard officer investigating a suspected drug smuggling boat near Santa Cruz, California, was killed Sunday when the boat's driver accelerated, running over two approaching patrol officers, a Coast Guard official said Sunday.

A second Coast Guard boat pursued the fleeing vessel, detained two unidentified suspects and recovered an unknown amount of marijuana from the vessel, Coast Guard Petty Officer Seth Johnson said.

The officer died Sunday morning after suffering a severe head injury when he was struck and thrown into the ocean near Santa Cruz Island, Johnson said. A second officer thrown overboard sustained minor injuries. His name was not released.

The officer killed was identified as Chief Petty Officer Terrell Horne III, an investigator with the Ventura County medical examiner's office said.

A Coast Guard patrol aircraft spotted a "panga-type vessel," a small fishing boat with an outboard motor, operating without any lights in the waters off the island, Johnson said.

The Coast Guard's 87-foot Halibut patrol boat was dispatched to the area.

As the Halibut neared the vessel, a smaller boat with the two officers was deployed to investigate the darkened vessel.

As the small boat approached with its blue light flashing, the suspect boat's driver suddenly accelerated.

The crew of the first boat quickly recovered the officers thrown overboard, while a 45-foot Coast Guard response boat pursued the fleeing panga.

Johnson said in the past year, Coast Guard patrols have seen a "surge" in drug smuggling activity using panga-style boats to ferry illegal drugs into southern California.

(Reporting By Chris Francescani ; Editing by Corrie MacLaggan and Stacey Joyce)

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Comments (2)
Willie12345 wrote:
How sad. Another American in service to his country loses his life. How many lives had this Coast Guardsman saved over the period of time he served this nation? Those that use drugs are partially to blame for this tragic loss of life.

Dec 03, 2012 10:36am EST  --  Report as abuse
DBAW wrote:
“Panga-type vessel”? It sounds organized and “Oriental” and sinister but IT’S SIMPLY A SMALL OPEN V-BOTTOM BOAT like you’d rent at a marina or recreational wharf The persecution of Marijuana claims another victim… This time a USCG crewman.

Dec 04, 2012 7:36pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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