Coast Guard Rescues Man Wanted for Stealing and Trespassing From Tossing Waves

The Coast Guard in Oregon had rescued a man who was wanted by the police for stealing a yacht and placing a dead fish on the porch of a house featured in the 1985 classic movie, The Goonies. The police on Wednesday got a report that 35-year-old Jericho Labonte filmed himself placing a dead fish on the porch of the house used by Steven Spielberg for his classic film shot in Astoria, Oregon.

Labonte had reportedly danced around the house after leaving the fish on the porch of the house before leaving the property. He then posted the video of placing the fish at the scene on social media. Later on Wednesday evening, the police received a report that a man stole a yacht, which the police started to look for without locating it.

Then it happened that Labonte, who stole the boat and took it out to the waters at the mouth of the Columbia River between Oregon and Washington, was caught in a heavy tempest. He used the radio of the boat to broadcast a mayday signal and the Coast Guard swung into action to rescue him. Not knowing that he was a man wanted by the law, the Coast Guard set about rescuing Labonte from the strong waves threatening to capsize his boat.

Petty Officer Michael Clark reported that two Coast Guard aircrews and lifeboats were dispatched for the rescue operation.

“After notifying watchstanders at Sector Columbia River who launched motor lifeboats from STA Cape Disappointment, the aircrews arrived at the scene to find the vessel floundering in the surf! The surf made rescue by boat dangerous, so the aircrew decided to lower the rescue swimmer and have the owner enter the water for rescue,” the Coast Guard tweeted.

As Labonte entered the water and Petty Officer 1st Class Branch Walton reached him, a strong wave hit the yacht and capsized it, but Walton was able to rescue Labonte just in the nick of time before that. The fugitive was flown back to the Coast Guard Base Astoria where EMS treated him for mild hypothermia before getting him to a hospital. He was treated and then discharged.

But when videos and photos of the rescue operation hit the media, Astoria Police Chief Stacy Kelly said several calls hit the station that Labonte was the man whose video of placing a dead fish had aired earlier. The Astoria port security chief also reported that he was the fugitive who stole the vessel they had been looking for.

The police mounted another search for Labonte and were able to arrest him on Friday night in Seaside, 17 miles to the south. The police in Victoria, British Columbia, called in to say that Labonte was also wanted for criminal harassment, mischief, and failure to comply cases since last fall. The police in Astoria are charging him with theft, endangering another person, criminal mischief, and unauthorized use of a vehicle.