The Associated Press 6:34 a.m. April 1, 2009
LONG BEACH, Calif. — A deckhand on a charter boat full of school children choked to death on a bait fish he had put in his mouth as a joke.
Captain Dan Salas of the boat Gale Force said Tuesday his employee Jeff Twaddle died during a fishing trip for the students last week along breakwater in Long Beach.
Salas called it a "tragic freak accident."
Fire Battalion Chief Battalion Chief Frank Hayes says the 54-year-old longtime fisherman was "trying to be lighthearted and make the students laugh when he put the fish in his mouth."
The fish lodged in his throat, Twaddle quickly lost consciousness and was later pronounced dead at a hospital.
The Los Angeles Unified School District sent a note to parents and was providing grief counselors for traumatized students.