LOS ANGELES - Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Terrell Horne holds his son during a Christmas cruise onboard the Cutter Halibut, his home unit, in this
LOS ANGELES - Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Terrell Horne holds his son during a Christmas cruise onboard the Cutter Halibut, his home unit, in this undated photograph. Chief Horne, a Boatswain Mate, was killed in the early morning of Dec. 2, 2012, from injuries sustained during law enforcement operations near Santa Cruz Island, Calif. The Coast Guard Cutter Halibut was investigating a panga-type vessel suspected of illicit activities. When the Halibut's small boat approached with its blue law enforcement light energized, the suspect vessel, identified to be a profile Mexican style panga, maneuvered at a high rate of speed directly towards the Coast Guard small boat and struck it before fleeing the scene. U.S. Coast Guard photograph by Lt. Stewart Sibert (Photo made available by the U.S. Coast Guard)

A Redondo Beach man was killed during predawn hours Sunday when his Coast Guard boat tried to intercept a panga suspected of drug smuggling near Santa Cruz Island, officials said.

The victim was identified as Chief Petty Officer Terrell Horne III, 34. Ventura County Chief Deputy Medical Examiner James Baroni said Horne died at 2:21 a.m. from head trauma. Baroni said his office will conduct an autopsy.

Horne was fatally injured while trying to inspect a panga - a primitive-style, motor-driven fishing boat - suspected of illicit activities, Coast Guard officials said.

A Coast Guard aircraft spotted the panga before dawn on Sunday, officials said. The 87-foot Cutter Halibut, based in Marina del Rey, was sent to intercept it. When the Halibut neared the panga, it deployed a small, inflatable chase boat with four crew members aboard that deployed its blue lights and siren.

As it motored closer, the panga, which was operating in the dark without lights, veered directly toward the vessel and slammed into it, Coast Guard Capt. James Jenkins said. The Coast Guard said the collision appeared to be intentional.

Horne and another crew member were thrown from the boat into the ocean. The men were quickly pulled from the water but Horne had suffered a traumatic head injury. The other man had minor injuries and both were taken to a hospital in nearby Port Hueneme, where Horne was pronounced dead.

The aircraft followed the panga as it fled the area and Coast Guard officials quickly caught up with it. Two suspects were detained and drugs were recovered, though officials would not specify the type of drugs found.

Coast Guard officials did not release any personal information about Horne, including how long he has been in the Coast Guard, at an evening news conference on Terminal Island.

The other guardsman, who suffered injuries that were not life-threatening, was not identified.

Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Terrell Horne, a Boatswain Mate on board the Coast Guard Cutter Halibut, died early in the morning of Dec. 2, 2012 from
Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Terrell Horne, a Boatswain Mate on board the Coast Guard Cutter Halibut, died early in the morning of Dec. 2, 2012 from injuries sustained during law enforcement operations near Santa Cruz Island, Calif. (Photo made available by the U.S. Coast Guard)

"We are deeply saddened by the loss of our shipmate," Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Robert J. Papp said in a statement. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends, and his shipmates aboard Coast Guard Cutter Halibut."

brian.summers@dailybreeze.com sandy.mazza@dailybreeze.com

Follow Brian Sumers and Sandy Mazza on Twitter at http://twitter.com/briansumers and http://twitter.com/sandymazza