LONG BEACH - A deckhand on a charter boat choked to death after he accidentally swallowed a bait fish in front of elementary school students on a fishing trip along the breakwater, authorities said Tuesday.
Jeff Twaddle, 54, of Huntington Beach was a deckhand on the Gale Force, a charter boat that operates fishing trips out of Rainbow Harbor and San Pedro, said Capt. Dan Salas, the boat's owner.
Los Angeles County Coroner's Lt. Fred Corral said Twaddle's death was ruled accidental.
"It's a tragic freak accident," Salas said. "We're all so saddened by this."
The accident happened Friday when Twaddle was on a fishing trip along the breakwater off Long Beach with a group of about 20 elementary school students from the Los Angeles Unified School District, said Long Beach Fire Department Battalion Chief Frank Hayes.
"It sounds like he was trying to be light-hearted and make the students laugh when he put the fish in his mouth," Hayes said.
The fish became severely lodged in Twaddle's throat and he quickly lost consciousness, Hayes said. Crew members, lifeguards and paramedics tried to dislodge the fish and perform CPR with no luck.
Twaddle was transported to St. Mary Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.
Hayes said the LAUSD sent a note home to parents and was offering grief counseling for the students that witnessed the event.
Salas said Twaddle was a long-time fisherman who worked on the Gale Force and also owned a boat in Rainbow Harbor called the Westerling.
Salas could not say what type of bait fish the crew was using.
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Tags: Deckhand, chokes, to, death, on, bait, fish
Location: San Pedro, California, United States (load item map)
Marked as: approved
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