LOS ANGELES — Two Mexican men have been charged in the death of a Coast Guard member who was killed Sunday in an encounter with smuggling suspects off the California coast, the US attorney’s office announced Monday.
Chief Petty Officer Terrell Horne, 34, suffered head trauma after his boat was struck by a panga, a type of vessel popular among smugglers.
Coast Guard officials could not recall any episode in which a member was killed while trying to apprehend smugglers in California. ‘‘We are deeply saddened by the loss of our shipmate,’’ Admiral Robert J. Papp Jr., the Coast Guard commandant, said in a statement. ‘‘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.’’
Horne, a 14-year veteran of the Coast Guard, was aboard the cutter Halibut early Sunday when a patrol aircraft detected the panga running without navigation lights near Santa Cruz Island. When a boarding team approached the panga in a smaller boat with its police lights on, the panga headed for it at high speed and hit it before fleeing.