The first time it happened, the reaction was shock: on June 11, a captain called the coast guard saying that the yacht he was on had blown up 20 miles off the coast of Sandy Hook, resulting in three deaths, nine injuries, and 21 people who needed rescue. Coast Guard, New York Fire Department and private boats rushed to the scene.
Medical helicopters touched down on Sandy Hook, waiting to fly the injured passengers to the hospital. But there was no one to help: six hours later, the Coast Guard stopped the search, calling it a suspected hoax.
The second time? Anger.
On Sunday, the Coast Guard received another distress call, this time 12 miles off the coast of Cape May. The caller repeated "mayday" with a location but no coordinates. After finding nothing, the Coast Guard called off the search on Sunday afternoon.
These incidents aren't cheap. Officials estimate that the Sandy Hook incident cost more than $300,000, and that the Cape May one cost the same. And unless the callers are caught, guess who's paying?
You got it: us.
Do I need to say it? Fine. People who are enacting these hoaxes: Stop it. You're being jerks and wasting the time, energy and money of good people. And what if a real disaster happened at the same time? Those choppers looking for a flaming yacht that doesn't exist are not going to be able to help the boat and victims really in distress.
If you have any information on either hoax, please contact the Coast Guard Investigative Service at 646-872-5774 or 212-668-7048. If you call, you will be given anonymity. For the June 11 hoax, the agency is offering a $3,000 reward.