Man To Pay $489K After Triggering A Massive Search Effort For Fictional Stranded Boaters

It’s one thing to call 9-1-1 over a messed up fast food order or perhaps accidentally when you didn’t realize you hit “emergency call” until hello, the police are on the phone and you’re very embarrassed. But it’s an entirely other, more expensive, boneheaded thing to pretend there are people in need of lifesaving help when the reality is, you’re just Peter crying wolf.

That fake wolf of a phone call will cost an Ohio man $489,000 after officials near Cleveland unleashed a massive U.S. Coast Guard search and rescue mission on Lake Erie, a U.S. appeals court ruled, according to Reuters.

Two years ago, the now 21-year-old licensed pilot told authorities he saw what he thought was a distress flare coming up from a boat as he flew over the lake.

And then when Cleveland-Hopkins International Airport asked him to get a closer look, he said he didn’t see boat but did see more flares and fishing boat with four people on it wearingn life jackets and flashing lights.

When a 21-hour search with a 140-foot U.S. Coast Guard cutter, three smaller rescue boats, a rescue helicopter and a Canadian CC130 Hercules airplane came up empty, the man finally confessed a month later to making it all up.

He pleaded guilty to making a false distress call and was sentenced to serve three months in jail and pay restitution of $277,000 to the U.S. Coast Guard and $212,000 to the Canadian Armed Forces. His lawyers claimed he wasn’t liable for the Canadian costs and only the coast guard’s direct costs of $118,000, but the appeals court upheld the previous ruling.

So remember folks, when you’re bored and flying your plane, it might seem like a fun(?) idea to pretend someone is in danger, but resist the temptation. It’s expensive and it’s a waste of everyone’s time.

Ohio man must pay $489,000 for fake distress report: court [Reuters]