The stricken boat was pummeled by waves. (Photo: U.S. Coast Guard Pacific Northwest)

A Daring Sea Rescue, a Dead Fish, and the House from ‘The Goonies’

This wild story out of coastal Oregon has it all


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A dramatic video circulated on social media over the weekend showing crews from the U.S. Coast Guard rescuing a man aboard a floundering yacht in high seas. In one clip, a rescue diver reaches the stricken vessel just before a massive wave capsizes it and knocks the only passenger into the thumping surf. It’s a thrilling watch.

“Talk about arriving in the nick of time!” the Coast Guard tweeted.

The video clips were shot by a helicopter crew with the U.S. Coast Guard Pacific Northwest on Friday, February 4. The crews happened to be conducing a training session off the Oregon coast when they received a mayday from the boat, which had encountered high seas near the mouth of the Columbia River. The region of water is prone to swirling seas and devastating waves—so frequent are maritime disasters that seafarers refer to the region as the “Graveyard of the Pacific.”

The helicopter eventually plucked the man from the roaring seas. After officials learned his identity, the story got weirder.

According to local police, the man is named Jericho Labonte, and he was wanted for a string of crimes in the area. Cops say Labonte stole the doomed 35-foot P/C Sandpiper yacht—which sunk in the surf—from a harbor in nearby Astoria, Oregon. One of the other offenses Labonte is accused of committing involves the house used in the famed Steven Spielberg film The Goonies. Police say Labonte approached the home on Wednesday, February 2, left a dead fish on the porch, and uploaded the video of the ordeal to Facebook.

“The Astoria Police Department received a call from a concerned citizen on February 1, 2023, informing us that 35-year-old Jericho Labonte had posted a video of himself on Facebook placing a dead fish on the front porch of the Goonies’ house,” the department said in a release.

A surveillance video captured the act, and the homeowner shared it with local TV station KGW8. In the video, a man who looks a lot like Labonte slowly approaches the home while carrying a black plastic bag. He removes a fish from the bag and places it on the wooden porch, and then raises his middle finger to the security camera. Then, the man takes out a phone and appears to shoot a video of the house.

A video uploaded to Labonte’s own Facebook page seems to be consistent with the scenes showed in the surveillance tape. The New York Times reports that Jericho also bellowed out the famous line from the film, “Hey you guys!” during the act. Alas, nobody knows whether or not Labonte also performed the “Truffle Shuffle” dance during his encounter.

Police say Labonte eventually put adhesive stickers on the security cameras outside the house, and later returned to remove the fish.

Coast Guard crews had no knowledge of Labonte’s crimes, and officials transported him to the local Columbia Memorial Hospital, which eventually discharged him. According to the Times, an eyewitness spotted him Friday afternoon at a warming center, where cops arrested him.

“We received calls from several citizens identifying the rescued victim as Labonte,” police said in the release.

Labonte’s rap sheet from his time in Oregon was long, and cops said he was wanted for theft, endangering another person, unauthorized use of a vehicle, and criminal mischief. As it turns out, Labonte may be wanted for additional crimes. Stacy Kelly of the Astoria Police Department told The Times that Labonte hails from British Columbia, and he had entered the U.S. illegally. He also said Labonte was wanted in Canada on charges of mischief, criminal harassment, and failure to comply. Local cops handed him off to U.S. immigration officials, Kelly said.

Kelly told The Times that the small town had never seen an incident like this. “Not one person causing so much mayhem,” Kelly said. “That’s for sure.”

Lead Photo: U.S. Coast Guard Pacific Northwest