U. S. Coast Guard Boatswain’s Mate Chief Petty Officer Terrell Horne died this morning from injuries sustained during a hit-and-run collision at sea while investigating a suspicious craft operating without navigation lights near Santa Cruz Island, California.
The unlit craft was initially detected by Coast Guard maritime patrol aircraft which then alerted the 87-foot cutter Halibut operating nearby.
XPO (Executive Petty Officer) Chief Horne and his small boat crew deployed from the Halibut aboard a rigid-hulled inflatable boat (RHIB) to investigate the vessel which was suspected of illicit activities. As Chief Horne and his team approached with its blue law enforcement light energized, the suspect vessel, identified to be a Mexican-style panga, maneuvered at a high rate of speed directly towards the Coast Guard small boat and struck it before fleeing the scene according to a statement by the US Coast Guard.
The force of the collision threw Chief Horne and one other crewmember on board the RHIB into the water. Both were recovered quickly, however Chief Horne had sustained a traumatic head injury and was later pronounced deceased by emergency responders at Port Hueneme.
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of our shipmate. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends, and his shipmates aboard Coast Guard Cutter Halibut,” said Coast Guard Commandant, Admiral Robert J. Papp. “We are focused on supporting them during this very difficult time. 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. Finally, I commend the responding Coast Guard and Customs and Border Protection units whose quick actions led to the successful interdiction and apprehension of those believed to be involved.”
The fleeing small boat and suspects were quickly tracked down and arrested by other Coast Guard assets in the area and the incident remains under investigation.