Updated 06/12/2012 04:39 PM
Coast Guard Releases False Distress Call That Triggered Rescue Operation
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The Coast Guard has released a false distress call made on Monday of a yacht explosion off the New Jersey coast that led to a rescue effort including the city police and fire departments, and now a $3,000 reward is offered for information leading to an arrest.
Officials say they received the emergency call Monday afternoon from a caller who claimed to be aboard a boat called the Blind Date.
The caller says, "We have 21 souls on board, 20 in the water right now. I have three deceased on board, nine injured because of the explosion we had."
When the NYPD, FDNY, Coast Guard and other first responders arrived, they could not find any signs of an explosion and called off the search after several hours.
"We treat every, even if we think a case is a potential hoax, we always go in with the assumption that it is not. We do not want to under-react to an actual emergency. So our first action will be to respond and then to pull back our boats and helicopters," said Captain Gregory Hitchen, the deputy commander of the New York Coast Guard.
The operation has cost at least $88,000.
A $3,000 reward is being offered for information leading to an arrest.
Making a false distress call is a federal felony and carries a maximum penalty of 10 years behind bars and a $250,000 fine, plus search costs.
Anyone with any information should call the Coast Guard at 1-646-872-5774 or 1-212-668-7048.