Audio released from St. Augustine hoax distress call

Rescue efforts in St. Augustine Inlet included helicopters, boats


ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – New details surfaced Wednesday with the release of the audio recording from a hoax distress call made in St. Augustine last month.

"This is rubber ducky coming in and we are trapped on the sandbar," the caller said during the Easter Sunday incident. "We done flipped over and we need help now."

The Coast Guard, St. Johns County Sheriff's Office and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission scrambled boats to the St. Augustine Inlet to search for an overturned boat.

Authorities concluded the distress call was bogus after an hour-long effort found no sign of the boat. Now, their search has taken a new direction as they try to track down the person behind the call.

The search effort cost the Coast Guard an estimated $5,000 and the Sheriff's Office an additional $940. But it could cost the prankster even more -- the penalty for a hoax distress call is up to six years in prison and a maximum $250,000 fine.

Hoaxes can tax the Coast Guard's resources and prevent them from responding to urgent and legitimate calls, Boatswain's Mate Jared Phillips previously told News4Jax.

"We have different ways that we can figure out who it was. We have forensic technology ... that can pinpoint your location," Phillips said.

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