Coast Guard responds to report of person in water, determine emergency was hoax

CLEVELAND — The Coast Guard and the Chicago Police Department responded to a report of a person in the water near Edgewater Beach in Chicago on Sunday morning.

Just before 8 a.m., a 911 dispatcher notified the Coast Guard that they had received a report that a person had slipped into the water but were not able to collect any further information before the reporting source’s cell phone lost power.

Boat crews from Coast Guard Station Calumet Harbor, located in Chicago, and Coast Guard Station Wilmette Harbor, Ill., responded aboard 25-foot response boats. An air crew from Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City, Mich., was also dispatched aboard a Dolphin helicopter.

The crews arrived on scene and searched the area but found no signs of any person.

Further investigation revealed that the phone number from which the report came was the same used to report another emergency to the Chicago Police Department earlier in the day.

Chicago Police were able to trace the call and locate the phone. The phone’s owner confirmed making the false distress call and was arrested by the police.

The Coast Guard reminds mariners that making a false distress call endangers everyone on the water. It puts rescue crews needlessly at risk and, when personnel are diverted to false alarms, it may affect their ability to respond to people who are actually in distress. Additionally, it’s an unnecessary expenditure of taxpayers’ money.

In August 2013, an Ohio man was convicted of making a false distress call and was sentenced to three months of federal custody and ordered to pay nearly $500,000, which is how much the search cost the agencies involved.

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