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School kids endure tragic week in Southern California waters

April 1, 2009 | 11:13 am


Last week was harrowing for more than 100 schoolchildren on field trips off Southern California. A group of 90 kids on a whale-watching odyssey through Redondo Sportfishing last Wednesday discovered the floating body of an apparent suicide victim and had to remain with the body until authorities arrived.

Two days later about 20 kids on a fishing trip aboard the Gail Force out of Long Beach watched a deckhand choke to death after he placed a bait fish in his mouth in an attempt to entertain the children.

Capt. Dan Salas told the Associated Press on Tuesday that deckhand Jeff Twaddle was trying to "make the students laugh" when he popped the fish in his mouth. It lodged in his throat, and Twaddle lost consciousness. He was pronounced dead at a hospital.

School officials sent a note to parents and were providing grief counseling for students.

-- Pete Thomas

Photo: Michelle Larios, 9, enjoys her first fishing trip in 2007. Fishing trips are a popular way to acquaint schoolchildren with the wonders of the marine world. Credit: Pete Thomas