Hoax ‘mayday’ caller must pay $18,994

NEW BERN, N.C. (WNCN) – A 32-year-old man faces 28 months in prison after he pleaded guilty to charges stemming from to making false distress calls to the United States Coast Guard in 2013.

Brandon Paul Garner, 32, of Beaufort, North Carolina, will face three years supervised release following his prison sentence and must pay $18,994 in restitution, according to United States Attorney Thomas G. Walker.

On Oct. 20, 2013, a “MayDay” phone call was made that said a vessel holding five adults and two children was taking on water near the Core Creek Bridge in Beaufort.

In the call, it was reported a child was in the vessel and could not be seen, Walker said.

In response, a helicopter from the Marine Corps Air Station at Cherry Point was deployed along with a towboat from a local salvage company and emergency responders from the sheriff’s office and two fire departments.

Crews never found a vessel or anyone in distress.

“False distress calls incur significant cost to the public by obligating search resources and vast amounts of tax payer dollars. More importantly, they risk the very lives of responders for cases where no actual distress exist,” said Cpt. Sean Murtagh, second
commander of Sector North Carolina.

The Coast Guard later said the call was a hoax with the attempted rescue costed a total of $18,994.

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