The Coast Guard is offering a $3,000 reward for information leading to arrest of perpetrator of a recent false distress call
Coast Guard Vessel Traffic Service New York received an apparent distress call Monday, reportedly from the yacht Blind Date, stating the vessel suffered an explosion, seven people were injured and all 21 people aboard the yacht had abandoned ship into liferafts.
A later call to the Coast Guard reported that three people aboard the boat had died, and that several people had 2nd and 3rd-degree burns, and that people aboard were abandoning ship into liferafts.
Coast Guard search east of Sandy Hook included two Coast Guard boat crews and four Coast Guard helicopter crews, who searched approximately 638 square nautical miles. Response units from New York City Police Department, Fire Department of New York City, New Jersey State Police and Nassau County Police Department also conducted searches in the area without spotting alleged survivors or wreckage.
Making a false distress call is a federal felony with a maximum penalty of five to 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and reimbursement to the Coast Guard for the cost of performing the search. Coast Guard and other state and local agencies responded to more than 60 suspected hoax calls in the northern New Jersey, New York City and Hudson River region in 2011.
Anyone with information regarding false distress calls is encouraged to anonymously contact the U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service at 646-872-5774 or 212-668-7048.