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Published: Monday, 2/4/2013

Coast Guard looks into false distress calls


The Coast Guard Investigative Service and Crime Stoppers of Michigan are posting a reward of up to $3,500 for information leading to the identification and conviction of the person responsible for sending false distress calls from the Bolles Harbor region to the Coast Guard in the past two years.

The “mayday” calls have been transmitted over marine band radio, VHF-FM Channel 16, the international hailing and distress frequency, since 2010.

False distress calls: 

The Coast Guard says the caller claims to be in distress on a plane or boat in Lake Erie, are believed to have originated from the Bolles Harbor region south of Monroe.

The agencies are releasing audio recordings of some of the radio distress calls with the hope that someone will recognize the voice on the audio clips.

Lt. Justin Westmiller, chief of the Coast Guard Sector Detroit Command Center, said people ho put out false distress calls are “endangering everyone on the water, both the emergency responders who commence searching and the entire maritime community.”

“When rescuers are diverted on false alarms, it may impair their ability to respond to mariners who are actually in distress,” he said.

People with information are asked to contact the Coast Guard at 313-568-9560 or Crime Stoppers of Michigan at 1-800-SPEAKUP.

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