Possible phony distress call spurs warning from Coast Guard

The U.S. Coast Guard has issued a warning to pranksters after a woman made a potentially false distress call Monday, sparking a widespread search that included a helicopter and two boats near Tiburon.

Search crews scoured Bay waters Monday night and Tuesday morning after the distress call was made to a marine radio channel. The call came in around 8 p.m. Monday, the Coast Guard said.

“Listen to me, listen to me,” a female voice pleaded. “Hello, 10-4. I have a mayday.”

The Coast Guard used tracking technology to locate where the call could have approximately originated. An official attempted to make contact, but said he could not reach the caller. The search that spanned from the Richmond Bridge to Angel Island and beyond was called off Tuesday.

No signs of distress were found, authorities said.

If this was a hoax, the phony caller could face up to six years in prison and a $250,000 fine, the Coast Guard warned in a statement.

“Boaters should know that calling mayday over Channel 16 is similar to calling 911,” the Coast Guard said. “The concern is that someone could die during a real emergency because the rescue crews were searching a false distress.”

maldax@sfexaminer.com

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