By SERENA MARIA DANIELS
The Orange County Register
A Huntington Beach man is dead in what authorities are calling a “freak accident” after he choked on a piece of bait fish in front of a boat full of school children in Long Beach.
Jeff Twaddle, 54, a deckhand on the charter boat Gale Force, based out of the Rainbow Marina near the Port of Long Beach, died on a fishing trip Friday after he put the fish in his mouth as a joke for the 20 kids on-board while out on the water, authorities said.
The joke quickly turned fatal when he started choking, lost consciousness, and was unresponsive. Lifeguards tried to revive Twaddle, a longtime fisherman, while en-route to land, where Long Beach paramedics were waiting.
Twaddle was pronounced dead at 1:13 p.m. at St. Mary's Medical Center in Long Beach, Los Angeles County Coroner's Lt. Cheryl MacIllie said.
Long Beach fire battalion Chief Frank Hayes said Twaddle was “trying to be lighthearted and make students laugh when he put the fish in his mouth.”
The Coroner's Office deemed his death an accident, attributing it to “aspiration of fish.”
The children came from Eastman Elementary School in Los Angeles. School officials sent a note to parents and provided grief counselors to traumatized kids on Monday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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