A dead fish, The Goonies house, and a Canadian fugitive.
Several worlds collided on Friday morning off the coast of Oregon when the U.S. Coast Guard rescued a man also wanted by law enforcement in Canada.
Jericho Labonte, 35, was arrested on Friday evening, hours after leaving a hospital, on charges of first-degree theft, endangering another person, unauthorized use of a vehicle, and second-degree criminal mischief, Portland Fox affiliate KPTV reports.
He’s also wanted by authorities in British Columbia for criminal harassment, mischief, and failure to comply with officers.
Canadian authorities said the charges aren’t enough to warrant his extradition back home, though.
First, came the miraculous rescue.
The captain of the smallish P/C Sandpiper sent a “Mayday” broadcast. Lucky for him, two Coast Guard aircrews were on a nearby training mission and caught wind of the distress signal, sending word to authorities at Cape Disappointment.
“[T]he aircrews arrived on scene to find the vessel floundering in the surf!” the U.S. Coast Guard wrote on Twitter. “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. As he entered the water the vessel capsized but the rescue swimmer was able to safely recover the individual. He was flown back to Coast Guard Base Astoria where EMS was waiting to evaluate and treat the man.”
(1/4) #BreakingNews – Talk about arriving in the nick of time! While conducting a training mission at the mouth of the Columbia River, 2 Coast Guard air crews received a #MAYDAY broadcast from the master of the P/C Sandpiper. After notifying watchstanders at Sector Columbia River pic.twitter.com/CtYSgpdPUG
— USCGPacificNorthwest (@USCGPacificNW) February 3, 2023
Labonte was that man.
He was flown by helicopter away from danger and treated by medical staff at the Coast Guard base in Astoria, Oregon.
Later that day, Astoria police said they learned the wayward ship had been stolen, that its captain was wanted by America’s neighbors up north, and that he had been caught on security camera footage leaving a dead fish on the porch of a residence famous for its inclusion in Richard Donner‘s 1985 classic coming-of-age film “The Goonies.”
In the movie, characters Mikey, portrayed by Sean Astin, and his big brother Brandon, portrayed by Josh Brolin, live in the house – one of many in the fictionalized Goondocks neighborhood threatened by the development of a country club. The characters embark on a treasure-hunting journey during which hijinks ensue, life lessons are learned, crimes are committed, arrests are made, and the day is saved.
Local law enforcement belatedly realized who Labonte was.
“Unfortunately, he was discharged from the hospital before everyone put two and two together, so he is somewhere between here and the Coast Guard base,” Astoria police chief Stacy Kelly told KPTV. “Apparently, he left his jacket on the Coast Guard helicopter and we believe he’s heading back there to retrieve his jacket.”
He was arrested around 8 p.m. that day, near a warming center for the homeless in Seaside, Oregon.
The police chief said an acquaintance alerted authorities to a video, posted to social media, of a man leaving a dead fish in front of the popular tourist attraction and dancing around.
“It’s been a really odd 48 hours,” Kelly told the Associated Press.
The man who saved Labonte’s life has no regrets.
“We got the mayday call in the classroom and played rock, paper, scissors for which swimmer got to go,” U.S. Coast Guard Third Class Petty Officer John Branch-Walton told KPTV. “It was definitely an amazing experience and I’d like to do it again.”
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