Coast Guard officer dies in clash with smuggling suspects

A file image of a small boat from the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Halibut. A suspected smugglers' vessel struck a Coast Guard boat at high speed Sunday, Dec. 2, 2012, throwing two crewmembers overboard. One sustained a fatal head injury.

VENTURA, Calif. A smuggler's vessel rammed a small U.S. Coast Guard boat off the Southern California coast, killing one Coast Guard member and injuring another, authorities said.

CBS Station KCBS reports that the small boat was deployed by the Coast Guard cutter Halibut, which was investigating a suspected smuggling vessel detected by a Coast Guard maritime patrol aircraft near the Channel Islands west of Malibu.

According to a Coast Guard statement, the smuggler's panga, which was running without lights, maneuvered at a high rate of speed directly at the Coast Guard boat, striking it before fleeing the scene.

Two members of the Coast Guard were thrown from the boat, with one sustaining a traumatic head injury.

Chief Petty Officer Terrell Horne III, of Redondo Beach, Calif., was killed by suspected smugglers off the Channel Islands.

Chief Petty Officer Terrell Horne III, 34, of Redondo Beach, was pronounced dead after being brought ashore at the Port of Hueneme, Ventura County chief deputy medical examiner James Baroni said.

The second man was treated for minor injuries. His name wasn't released.

Another Coast Guard vessel stopped the fleeing panga, and detained two suspects.

"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.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano also released a statement, saying, "This tragedy reminds us of the dangers our men and women in uniform face every day, and the great risks they willingly take, as they protect our nation."

Horne's neighbors told KCBS correspondent Cristy Fajardo that he was a devoted husband and family man. Horne and his wife Rachel have one daughter and a child on the way.