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Was distress call to the Coast Guard a hoax?

March 24, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
A mysterious distress call came to the Coast Guard early Wednesday morning but there were no signs of anyone in trouble. The Coast Guard searched the water off of Malibu after someone radioed in a mayday call. Rescuers found no clues of trouble. The Coast Guard received a dramatic call that came in at 2:09 a.m. "This is King Fisher 1. Mayday. Mayday. Mayday. Come back Coast Guard," said the caller.

Coast Guard officers immediately launched a helicopter from their base at LAX. They loosely triangulated the source of the radio call as coming from a location that was 30 miles west of Point Dume. When searchers arrived, nothing was found.

"Right now we haven't been able to correlate the two. We haven't found a boat or a boater in distress. There's no indication that there's anything out there right now," said Matt Schofield, U.S. Coast Guard.

Schofield said a check of boat registries turned up no King Fisher 1, the vessel that was identified in the distress call. All attempts after the call to make radio contact with it failed.

So was it just a hoax?

"If it is a hoax, it doesn't matter we still treat it as a real case," said Schofield. "We're going to respond to it just as we would any other case. Hoaxes do happen. We hope that the public does take into consideration that you're putting Coast Guard members' lives at stake and other people's lives at stake if you do call in something and it's not true."

At midday, the Coast Guard called off the search and said it will remain suspended unless they receive another call.