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Coast Guard Member Dies After Collision With Suspicious Boat

A member of the U.S. Coast Guard died early Sunday morning during an investigation near Santa Cruz Island, Calif. A boat suspected of "illicit activities" rammed into the Coast Guard vessel, throwing two Guard members overboard, authorities said in a press release.

One of the crew members sustained only minor injuries, while the other had a traumatic head injury and was pronounced dead after being taken to emergency crews at the pier.

The fleeing boat was later stopped and two suspects were detained, the Coast Guard said.

The crew member who died has been identified as Terrell Horne III of Redondo Beach, Ventura County chief deputy medical examiner James Baroni tells The Associated Press. The other member's name has not been released, the AP says.

"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," Commandant Adm. Robert J. Papp. said in the Coast Guard statement.

The Coast Guard said the suspicious boat, operating without any lights, appeared to be a "Mexican style panga."

In a report earlier this month, NBC affiliate KSBY in California described the vessels:

"Panga boats are the newest tool for drug smugglers and they are almost impossible to stop. They are low, open fishing boats that are popular in Mexico. Drug smugglers are putting high-speed motors on them and moving drugs up the coast of California."

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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