SANTA BARBARA COUNTY - 34 year old Terrell Horne was a Chief Petty Officer on the Coast Guard Cutter Halibut that was tracking drug smuggling suspects on Panga Boats early Sunday morning near Santa Cruz Island off Ventura County.
The Coast Guard says the suspected drug smugglers rammed a high-speed "panga" boat into a smaller chase boat that Horne was riding in, throwing him in the water.
The Coast Guard says Horne died from a severe head injury.
Last July Central Coast Congresswoman Lois Capps convened a meeting of law enforcement and the Coast Guard in Santa Barbara to talk about increased panga boat smuggling on the Central Coast.
At the time Capps called for stepped up patrols along the coast.
"We need to be able to respond with increasing efficiency too", Capps said last July.
On Monday, Capps issued a statement expressing her condolences to the family of Chief Petty Officer Horne and recognizing his ultimate sacrifice in defense of the country.
Capps also reiterated her concern over the escalating panga boat threat and pledged to continue pressing for better federal and state efforts in combating panga boat smuggling.
Here is Capps' statement issued through her press office in Washington D.C.:
"My heart goes out to the family of Chief Petty Officer Terrell Horne III who was killed in the line of duty, working to protect and defend our country. We are forever grateful for his service and the service of the thousands of Coast Guardsmen who patrol our coastlines day in and day out," said Congresswoman Capps.
"I am extremely concerned by the number of similar incidents of panga smuggling that have recently occurred on the Central Coast. That is why earlier this year I convened a meeting between local and federal law enforcement to discuss the importance of better coordinating enforcement efforts between federal, state and local law enforcement, and ensuring that we are dedicating adequate resources to combating panga smuggling. This is especially important as these incidents continue to occur further and further north on the Central Coast. In light of this tragic event, I will to continue to press DHS, FEMA, the Coast Guard, and Cal EMA to work to better combat panga smuggling and protect our men and women in uniform."
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano also issued a statement expressing sadness over the death of Chief Petty Officer Horne.
Here is Secretary Napolitano's statement:
"I am deeply saddened to learn of the death of U.S. Coast Guard Boatswains Mate Chief Terrell Horne during a counter-drug operation yesterday morning near Santa Cruz Island, California. BMC Horne and his fellow crew members of the USCG Cutter Halibut were engaged in an at-sea interdiction when they came under threat by a small vessel that rammed their small boat. 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. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of BMC Horne and all of our Coast Guard personnel at this difficult time."
Terrell Horne was a 14 year veteran of the Coast Guard and leaves behind a wife in Redondo Beach where they shared a home and several family members.
Wednesday, June 5 2013 5:40 PM EDT2013-06-05 21:40:27 GMT
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