• Fri. Mar 24th, 2023


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Man who allegedly left dead fish at ‘Goonies’ house rescued from rough seas near stolen yacht

Unknowing rescuers plucked a man accused of placing a dead fish at an Oregon house featured in “The Goonies” from rough waters Friday, moments after the yacht he’d been on capsized, authorities said.

The man, later identified as Jericho Labonte, 35, of Victoria, British Columbia, was taken into custody Friday after a number of people recognized him, police in Astoria, Oregon, said in a statement.

Authorities started pursuing Labonte after receiving a report Wednesday that he posted a video on Facebook that showed him placing the dead fish on the porch of the residence, police said. The home is nicknamed after “The Goonies,” Steven Spielberg’s 1985 boyhood adventure film in which the house appears.

But it wasn’t until after the U.S. Coast Guard shared a video Friday showing a dramatic rescue that authorities learned the boat in the video had been stolen and the man rescued was believed to be Labonte, police said.

A U.S. Coast Guard vessel, left, moves to help a vessel in distress in rough waters of the Columbia River in the Pacific Northwest on Friday.
A U.S. Coast Guard vessel, left, moves to help a vessel in distress in rough waters of the Columbia River in the Pacific Northwest on Friday.U.S. Coast Guard via Twitter

Astoria police said Labonte was wanted on allegations of theft, endangering another person, unauthorized use of a vehicle, and criminal mischief. Astoria Police Chief Stacy Kelly said some of the allegations were from preexisting cases in British Columbia, according to the Associated Press.

Video of the rescue taken from onboard a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter showed a person, later identified as Labonte, alone on a 35-foot vessel, which had put out a mayday call and was taking on water, the Coast Guard said. A rescue swimmer is seen cutting rapidly toward them through the rough seas until a wave neared, he went overboard, and the boat capsized.

The rescue swimmer took the wave head on, got under it, and emerged to grab the suspect, according to the the video and Coast Guard statements.

A helicopter crew hoisted the two up to safety, the agency said.

Later in the day, police were informed by the Port of Astoria security chief that the vessel from the rescue had been stolen from the port. Several residents also called to say they recognized the man rescued as Labonte, police said.

By the time Labonte was identified as the suspect, he had been released from Columbia Memorial Hospital following his rescue, police said.

Officers later arrested him about 17 miles south of Astoria in Seaside, Oregon, at a warming center for people who need shelter, Astoria police said late Friday night.

An attempt to reach Labonte was unsuccessful.

The rescue took place about 6 miles west of the mouth of the Columbia River off the Oregon Coast, according to Coast Guard. The seas off the coast were measured as high as 20 feet Friday, federal forecasters said.

The brave rescuer was identified late Friday as Aviation Survival Technician 3rd Class John “Branch” Walton. It was his first life saved as a rescue swimmer and he graduated later that day from the Coast Guard’s Advanced Helicopter Rescue School, the agency said.

Astoria, a city on the Columbia River, is roughly 100 miles northwest of Portland, Oregon.

A Kansas City entrepreneur bought the Victorian “Goonies” house in the city in December for $1.65 million, keeping his identity under wraps until the deal closed in January, according to reports from NBC affiliates KING of Seattle and KGW of Portland. The latter described buyer Behman Zakeri as a ‘Goonies’ “superfan” who intends to preserve the property as a place where the film’s other fans can visit and take selfies.

Todd Miyazawa contributed.