A man who was saved by the US Coast Guard as a massive wave rolled the yacht he was piloting was wanted for a bizarre incident in which police said he left a dead fish at a home featured in the classic 1985 film The Goonies.
Officers had been looking for the man since Wednesday, when an acquaintance alerted them to a video he posted on social media of himself leaving the fish at the house and then dancing around the property in Oregon, Astoria Police Chief Stacy Kelly said.
Chief Kelly identified the man as Jericho Labonte, 35, of Victoria, British Columbia.
Labonte was also wanted in British Columbia on criminal harassment, mischief and failure to comply cases from last fall, she said.
Early Friday afternoon, the Coast Guard shared stunning video of a rescue made a few hours earlier in which a newly minted rescue swimmer lowered by cable from a helicopter swam to an 11-metre motor yacht that was struggling in heavy surf.
As the swimmer approached the vessel, a large wave slammed into it, rolling the boat over and throwing a man, later identified as Labonte, into the water.
The swimmer, Petty Officer 1st Class Branch Walton, of Greenville, South Carolina, reached Labonte and pulled him to safety.
The helicopter crew flew him to Coast Guard Base Astoria, where medics treated him for mild hypothermia and transported him to a hospital.
The yacht’s owner, who lives in nearby Warrenton, Oregon, reported the vessel stolen later Friday, the police chief said.
The hospital had already released Labonte when police saw the Coast Guard photos and video and realised it was the same person who they said covered over security cameras at the Goonies house and left the dead fish on the porch.
Chief Kelly didn’t know what kind of fish it was, but said police believed it was caught locally because after the video started circulating another person reported having taken Labonte fishing.
“It’s been a really odd 48 hours,” Chief Kelly said.
Late on Friday night Astoria Police confirmed they had arrested Labonte at a homeless shelter.
The graveyard of the Pacific
The mouth of the Columbia, the largest North American river flowing into the Pacific Ocean, is known as “the graveyard of the Pacific” for its notoriously rough seas.
The Coast Guard received the yacht’s mayday call around 10 am Friday while conducting trainings nearby, Petty Officer Michael Clark said.
The mayday contained no information about location or the specific problem, but the agency roughly triangulated the vessel’s location and nearby boat crews and a helicopter responded.
They found the P/C Sandpiper yacht taking on water in six-metre seas, meaning the height of a wave from the previous trough could be as much as 12 metres, Petty Officer Clark said.
Petty Officer Walton, who only recently graduated from the Coast Guard’s rescue swimmer program, was lowered from the helicopter by a cable.
Labonte climbed onto the stern of the yacht and prepared to enter the water just as a huge wave slammed the craft, throwing him into the surf.
The wave struck so violently that the vessel rolled completely over and wound up floating upright.
Petty Officer Walton said in an interview Friday he had planned to reach the man, get him in the water and hook him to a cable attached to the helicopter. Instead, the wave hit.
“I kind of got thrown around a little bit by the wave,” he said.
“When I came up I noticed the boat was pretty much in shambles.”
He directed the helicopter to bring him to Labonte after spotting him in the surf a short distance away.
Source: ABC News