Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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December 3, 2012

Coast Guardsman dies when boat rammed off Calif

MARINA DEL REY, Calif. (AP) — A suspected smuggling vessel rammed a U.S. Coast Guard chase boat during a counter-drug operation off the California coast, killing one Coast Guardsman 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.

Horne and others were aboard a small inflatable boat deployed from the Marina del Rey-based Coast Guard cutter Halibut.

The Halibut's commanding officer, Lt. Stewart Sibert, told a press conference Monday that he and his crew were devastated by the loss of the man he called the best shipmate he had ever known.

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

Sibert credited Horne with helping to rescue people on a struggling sailboat just a few months ago off of the Channel Islands.

"It was pitch black, the winds were howling, the seas were building and everything was getting worse," Sibert said.

Horne came up with a plan, and his experience and professionalism saved three lives, Sibert said.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Horne and fellow crewmembers of the Halibut "were engaged in an at-sea interdiction when they came under threat by a small vessel that rammed their small boat."

A Coast Guard maritime patrol aircraft spotted a panga — an open, low-sided fishing boat favored by Mexican smugglers — before dawn and the cutter was sent to intercept it, officials said.

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