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Yesterday afternoon, someone made a distress call claiming their boat had exploded off the Jersey shore and was sinking. They went on to say that 3 people had been killed and 9 injured by the explosion, that 20 people were in life rafts in need of rescue.
Hear the recorded audio from The Star-Ledger. Audio – Coast Guard Vessel Traffic Service New York received a distress call on VHF channel 14 at approximately 4:20 p.m., Monday, June 11, 2012, reportedly from the master of the yacht Blind Date, stating the vessel suffered an explosion and was taking on water. This call prompted a Coast Guard search with multiple aircraft and surface vessels, joined by aircraft and surface vessels from other agencies. The reporting source gave a position of 17.5 miles east of Sandy Hook, N.J.
photo: WPIX Channel 11 News
The distress call prompted an immediate rescue response from multiple agencies –US Coast, Guard, NJ State Police, NYPD, FDNY and the Nassau County police department aided in the search. Dozens of emergency response crews rushed to the area.
2 Coast Guard helicopters
3 47-foot motor life boats
3 NYPD helicopters
1 Nassau County helicopter
2 civilian good samaritan boats
2 NJ State Police medevac helicopters
At the emergency staging area set up in the Fort Hancock area of Sandy Hook:
2 medical buses with the capacity to carry 20 patients
numerous emergency vehicles and fire trucks
dozens of EMS crews
dozens of Rescue crews
As the rescue operation searched for the injured, it slowly became evident it had all been a hoax.
Deputy Commander of Coast Guard Sector New York Capt. Gregory Hitchen. photo: AP/Seth Wenig
From the Boston Globe: Two hoax calls reporting an explosion on a motor yacht off central New Jersey came from land and the rescue effort cost tens of thousands of dollars, the Coast Guard said Tuesday.
Deputy Commander Gregory Hitchen said at a news conference that the search and rescue operation on Monday evening cost at least $88,000 and lasted about four hours. He said the emergency call came from a radio that was being used by someone on land, not on the water.
The two calls came in on a radio positioned somewhere in New Jersey or southern New York, possibly Staten Island, the Coast Guard said. They came in on a Coast Guard channel that is not typically used for emergencies.
Hitchen said the hoax put the public at risk by taking Coast Guard personnel away from a separate emergency call that came in during the four-hour-long search. He did not provide details on the separate emergency.
The Coast Guard is taking this hoax very seriously. At a televised news conference held today, the USCG announced a $3,000 reward for any information leading to the arrest of this prankster who faces five to 10 years in federal prison, a $250,000 fine and full reimbursement to the government for the cost of the search.
Anyone with any information please call the Coast Guard at 1-646-872-5774 or 1-212-668-7048.
by Mai Armstrong for Working Harbor Committee