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Customs Agents Aiding Clinton Hurt

January 2, 1998

ST. THOMAS, Virgin Islands (AP) _ Three U.S. Customs Service agents helping provide security for President Clinton’s arrival in the Virgin Islands were injured in a boat accident in the waters off the airport in Charlotte Amalie, officials said today.

The three agents were airlifted Friday by Coast Guard helicopter to the Centro Medico Hospital in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where one was in critical condition. A second agent suffered broken limbs, and the third had a broken arm, said Frank Figueroa, Customs special agent in charge in San Juan.

The agents’ identities weren’t released.

They were aboard a Customs Service vessel in the flight path of Air Force One into the Cyril E. King airport here, helping to assure a secure landing Thursday evening.

The accident occurred about 8:30 p.m. when the agents’ 37-foot Midnight Express speed boat hit submerged rocks after finishing their patrol off St. Thomas. One agent called for help on a cellular phone, and another Customs vessel arrived on the scene shortly afterwards.

The accident occurred after Air Force One landed and the president left by motorcade for a vacation beach house.

The Treasury Department and Customs Service were sending officials from Washington and Florida to help the agents’ families and investigate the cause of the accident, Figueroa said.

A White House official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Clinton’s security was not affected by the incident, and it was unclear whether he had been told about it.

The president and his family are spending four days on the island of St. Thomas, rounding up a brief winter vacation.

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