Audio Released Of Hoax Yacht Call, Reward Offered By Coast Guard [AUDIO/VIDEO]
The U.S. Coast Guard has released audio of the call made about a boat in distress east of Sandy Hook.
A $3,000 reward is being offered for the prosecution of the person who made a false distress call about a motor yacht exploding east of Sandy Hook as they reveal receiving a second call from the "wreckage."
"We're taking this potential hoax very seriously," Capt. Gregory P. Hitchen of the Coast Guard said at a Tuesday news conference.
PREVIOUS: Yacht Reportedly Explodes Off Sandy Hook
Authorities received a "convincing" call from a vessel identifying itself as the Blind Date on Monday afternoon. The caller reported the boat was 17 nautical miles east of Sandy Hook and had 21 people aboard and seven people were injured.
As the rescue was underway, the Coast Guard received a second call reporting three people dead aboard the boat and that several people had second- and third-degree burns in the accident.
A 4 HOUR, $88,000 SEARCH
The four hour search, covering 638 nautical miles, came at a cost of $88,000 and included response units from New York City Police Department, Fire Department of New York City, New Jersey State Police and Nassau County Police. A Coast Guard HU-25 Falcon jet and an MH-60T helicopter launched from Cape Cod also assisted in the search.
Hitchen said the hoax call came from a radio line that points across New Jersey and southern New York, including Staten Island. The call did not come from the water.
The call came in over radio and was only picked up by one antenna, making exact triangulation of the call's origin impossible. They also say the call came in over a Coast Guard channel, but not the channel used for emergency transmissions.
The caller is described as cool and collected, giving detail about injuries and the state of the ship according to WABC TV. The incident was determined the scenario to be a hoax around 10PM Monday night though they had suspicions only two hours after receiving the call.
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.
In addition to being a federal crime, false distress calls waste tax payer dollars, put Coast Guard and other first responders at unnecessary risk and can interfere with the Coast Guard’s ability to respond to actual distress at sea.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.