Rescuers unknowingly rescued a man accused of placing a dead fish in an Oregon home featured in «The Goonies» from rough waters Friday, moments after the yacht he had been on capsized, authorities said.
The man, later identified as Jericho Labonte, 35, of Victoria, British Columbia, was taken into custody Friday after multiple people recognized him, Astoria, Oregon police said in a statement.
Authorities began pursuing Labonte after receiving a report Wednesday that he posted a video on Facebook showing him placing the dead fish on the residence’s porch, police said. The house is nicknamed «The Goonies», Steven Spielberg’s 1985 childhood adventure film in which the house appears.
But it wasn’t until the US Coast Guard shared 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. .
Astoria police said Labonte was wanted on charges 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 pre-existing cases in British Columbia, according to The Associated Press.
Video of the rescue taken from aboard a US Coast Guard helicopter showed a person, later identified as Labonte, alone in a 35-foot boat, who had issued an emergency call and was drinking water, the Coast Guard said. A rescue swimmer is seen rapidly approaching them through the rough seas until a wave came up, he fell overboard and the boat capsized.
The rescue swimmer took the wave head-on, dove under it and surfaced to grab the suspect, according to the video and Coast Guard statements.
A helicopter crew lifted the two to safety, the agency said.
Later that day, the Astoria port security chief informed police that the rescue vessel had been stolen from the port. Several residents also called to say they recognized the rescued man as Labonte, police said.
When 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 drop-in center for people in need of shelter, Astoria police said 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 the Coast Guard. The sea off the coast was measured as low as 20 feet Friday, federal forecasters said.
The brave rescuer was identified Friday night as John «Branch» Walton, Aviation Survival Technician Third Class. He was his first life saved as a rescue swimmer and graduated earlier that day from the Coast Guard’s Advanced Helicopter Rescue School, the agency said.
Astoria, a city on the Columbia River, is approximately 100 miles northwest of Portland, Oregon.
A Kansas City businessman bought the «Goonies» Victorian home in the city in December for $1.65 million and kept his identity a secret until the deal closed in January, according to reports from NBC affiliates. KING from Seattle and KGW of Portland. The latter described buyer Behman Zakeri as a «superfan» of the ‘Goonies’ who intends to preserve the property as a place where other fans of the film can visit and take selfies.
Todd Miyazawa contributed.