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SANTA CRUZ Calif.– A Coast Guard officer was killed on Sunday morning, Dec. 2, from injuries sustained during a law enforcement operations near Santa Cruz Island, Calif.

Photo by Lt. Stewart Sibert/U.S. Coast Guard shows Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Terrell Horne, stationed on the Cutter Halibut, climbing aboard the ship after conducting water survival training in this undated photograph. Chief Horne, a Boatswain Mate, was killed in the early morning of Dec. 2, 2012, from injuries sustained during law enforcement operations near Santa Cruz Island, Calif. The Coast Guard Cutter Halibut was investigating a panga-type vessel suspected of illicit activities. When the Halibut's 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.

The victim was identified as Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Terrell Horne, a Boatswain Mate on board the Coast Guard Cutter Halibut, who was investigating a panga-type vessel, a 30-foot-long open-bowed fishing vessel,suspected of illicit activities.

Workboat.com wrote that the Coast Guard described the incident stating that the Halibut was investigating a panga-type vessel when the cutter deployed its small boat, which made an approach on the suspect vessel. When the Coast Guard’s small boat approached with its blue law-enforcement light energized, the panga maneuvered at a high rate of speed directly towards the Coast Guard small boat and struck it before fleeing the scene.

Workboat went on to say that two Coast Guard members were thrown from the boat into the water, and both members were immediately recovered by the Coast Guard small boat.

Chief Horne had sustained a traumatic head injury when struck by a propeller, and the other had minor injuries.

According to a UPI report, after ramming the small boat and killing Horne, the panga boat fled and was tailed by Coast Guard aircraft before it was intercepted about 20 miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border. Jose Meija-Leyva, who told investigators he was the panga boat’s captain, and Manuel Beltran-Higuera were detained and charged with killing an officer of the United States while the officer was engaged in his official duties.

Two Mexican nationals are being held and charged.


Posted by California maritime lawyer Gordon, Elias & Seely, LLP

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