December 3, 2012

Coast Guardsman dies when boat rammed by alleged smugglers

Chief Petty Officer Terrell Horne III, 34, of Redondo Beach was pronounced dead Sunday after he was brought ashore.

The Associated Press

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This undated photo provided by the U.S. Coast Guard shows Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Terrell Horne III, stationed on the Cutter Halibut. Horne III, a Boatswain Mate, was killed in the early morning of Sunday Dec. 2, 2012, from injuries sustained during law enforcement operations near Santa Cruz Island, Calif. Horne, of Redondo Beach, was pronounced dead after being brought ashore at the Port of Hueneme, Ventura County chief deputy medical examiner James Baroni said. He suffered a traumatic head injury in the crash before dawn, Coast Guard officials said. (AP Photo/U.S. Coast Guard/ Lt. Stewart Sibert)

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The Coast Guard cutter Halibut conducts a mission with California authorities in this file photo provided by the U.S. Coast Guard.

Migrants pay thousands of dollars to launch from beaches and small fishing villages south of Tijuana, Mexico. They typically use old, single-engine wooden fishing skiffs known as "pangas."

In one typical case in October, a Mexican woman told authorities she agreed to pay $12,000. A criminal complaint says she was among 16 people — all but one a suspected illegal immigrant from Mexico — found in a 31-foot vessel that appeared to be taking water in the Newport Beach harbor.

In September, authorities seized 3,475 pounds of marijuana from a boat that landed near Hearst Castle on the central coast.

The Halibut's commanding officer, Lt. Stewart Sibert, said Monday he and his crew were devastated by the loss of Horne, calling the Redondo Beach man the best shipmate he ever knew.

"He was my friend, he was my confidante, he was the glue that held my crew together," Sibert said, choking back tears at a news conference. "He gave me advice more times than I could count."

Just a few months ago, Horne helped save the lives of three people on a sailboat that was struggling against darkness and howling winds near the Channel Islands.

"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.

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