Did prank calls initiate search and rescue operations at Oneida Lake?
Local law enforcement officials fear two 911 calls may have been prank calls over the holiday weekend.
Oneida County Sheriff Rob Maciol stopped referring to them as “fake” or “prank” calls, instead calling them “unfounded” while he was on the WIBX First News with Keeler on Tuesday Tomorrow summarized. Both cases involved a reported boat in distress on Oneida Lake, with the first reporting being to Onondaga County 911 on Friday, Maciol said. The second came on Sunday afternoon and was handed over to the U.S. Coast Guard, he said.
About the search on Friday, Marciol said: âThat was an unsubstantiated call. I’m not entirely sure, has anyone seen anything they thought was a boat in distress? Has anyone made a fake call? We don’t know at this point. Then, if it happens again … ” said Maciol, referring to the second, similar call about a boat in distress on Oneida Lake on Sunday afternoon.
The call on Sunday came under completely different weather conditions. Friday’s report sparked a search and rescue operation that lasted until the late hours of the night – with first responders working in the dark, fighting wind and rain. The search on Sunday took place shortly after 2 p.m. in much better weather, but Maciol says that the lives of these first responders are at risk in all conditions.
âYou use a lot of resources, you endanger the lives of many first aiders. Costs a lot of money. Of course, if we’re saving a life, don’t worry about the financial cost, but if we’re going to do this unfounded When things happen, you put a price on them because it means a significant investment of manpower and resources, âsaid Maciol.
If staff is busy with a search and another 911 call is made regarding a ârealâ situation, those resources cannot simply be redeployed, he said. Rescue teams remain on site to further investigate the incident until it is determined that no one is in danger. In other words, prank calls to 911 are putting the lives of those facing a real emergency at risk as well as first responders looking for a sinking boat that doesn’t exist.
Patrolling the 26 mile long lake spans multiple jurisdictions as it stretches from Oneida County to Oswego, Madison, and Onondaga Counties. The sheriff’s staff from all four counties were on site with local fire departments for at least one of the searches, and a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter flew in from Buffalo to participate in both searches, Maciol said.
The sheriff said authorities are investigating who made those boat emergency calls to 911 but said trying to trace their origin is difficult given current technology that allows a caller to hide their real number and identity can be.
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