Tragedy at Sea: Joke Chokes Deckhand In Front of Kids

A deckhand on a charter boat full of school children from L.A. choked to death on a bait fish he had put in his mouth as a joke.

Captain Dan Salas of the boat Gale Force said his employee Jeff Twaddle died during a fishing trip for the students last week along breakwater in Long Beach.

Salas called it a "tragic freak accident."  It was made all the more horrific by the fact that it happened in front of the group about 20 elementary school kids from the The Los Angeles Unified School District.

Fire Battalion Chief Battalion Chief Frank Hayes says the 54-year-old longtime fisherman was "trying to be lighthearted and make the students laugh when he put the fish in his mouth."

The fish lodged in his throat, Twaddle quickly lost consciousness and was later pronounced dead at St. Mary Medical Center.

Crew members, lifeguards and paramedics tried to dislodge the fish and perform CPR, but to no avail, the Long Beach Press-Telegram reported.  It was unclear what kind of bait Twaddle had put in his mouth.

The LAUSD sent a note to parents and was providing grief counselors for traumatized students.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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