Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

RCMP, RCAF answer fake distress call

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A Matlock man is facing charges after he allegedly called in a phoney rescue plea from his boat on Lake Winnipeg.

The RCMP said its Gimli detachment received a call at about 10 p.m. Tuesday about a capsized boat and 13 people in the water.

RCMP spokesman Cpl. Miles Hiebert said the call triggered responses from the Canadian Coast Guard, local emergency services and a Royal Canadian Air Force Hercules and search and rescue team out of 17 Wing in Winnipeg.

The coast guard vessel located a boat with a lone individual on board about one kilometre from shore near the Winnipeg Beach harbour.

The 36-year-old man, who is believed to have been intoxicated, was safe.

The boat had not capsized and no one was in the water.

Hiebert said the man was taken into custody Tuesday night.

Hiebert said the phoney call isn't considered a laughing matter, adding search and rescue personnel put their lives at risk during searches and many times individuals are injured.

"It's tragic to think that could have been the possibility here," Hiebert said.

It's difficult to put a price on the waste of resources on a phoney call, he said.

But the real tragedy would have been if a legitimate call for help had come in and the needed resources weren't available because of the hoax, Hiebert said.

"We're going to explore every possible avenue" to bring all possible charges against the man, Hiebert said.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 2, 2012 A5

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