CRESCENT BEACH, Fla. – After searching for about 17 hours, the Coast Guard suspended its search for two people who reportedly abandoned their boat 3 miles off of Crescent Beach.
The Coast Guard monitored a VHF radio call at 5:48 p.m. Wednesday that reported a boat operator and his wife had abandoned a sailboat that was taking on water and set out in a dinghy.
Search crews covered an area of approximately 87 square nautical miles in an area stretching between 5 miles north and 5 miles south of Matanzas Inlet, Florida.
There was no sighting of a vessel or any debris and no boats were reported overdue to the Coast Guard, nor has anyone been reported missing.
An investigation led the Coast Guard to information indicating this to be a probable hoax.
The Coast Guard takes all calls for help seriously and highly advises the public against placing hoax calls. Hoax calls are illegal and can be prosecuted. They also significantly detract from the Coast Guard's ability to respond to emergencies.
An individual who knowingly and willfully communicates a false distress message to the Coast Guard, or causes the Coast Guard to attempt to save lives and property when no help is needed, is guilty of a class D felony, subject to a civil penalty of not more than $10,000 and liable for all costs the Coast Guard incurs as a result of the individual's action.
"Hoax calls are a common problem for the Coast Guard," said Lt. Chris Svencer, the incident management chief at Coast Guard Sector Jacksonville. "Hoaxes put our personnel at risk, divert assets from actual search and rescue cases and waste taxpayer dollars."