Phoney Coast Guard Mayday Call Could Put You in the Slammer [Jailhouse Rock]

Thursday, 06 August 2009
VHF RadioHave you been considering contacting Coast Guard with a phony mayday call? Next time you think of doing it, remember what happened to Kurtis Thorsted.

He recently admitted in federal court that he sent a false distress message to the Coast Guard via VHF radio. Thorsted radioed in that he was having trouble getting his kayak back to shore while in real life he was standing on shore back at home.

"Unfortunately, this type of criminal behaviour occurs far too often," said Capt. Thomas Cullen, deputy commander of Coast Guard Sector San Francisco. "Since we presume that every call for help is both valid and time-critical, we immediately launch our boats and aircraft to search the probable area of the distress call.

"My biggest fear is that someone will die because we have rescue crews searching for a false distress when they are needed for a real emergency elsewhere."

Thorsted was charged in March with nine counts in the case, including knowingly and willfully communicating false distress messages to the Coast Guard in August and October, making a false statement to a U.S. agency and producing an unlicensed radio transmission.

Thorsted is in hot water now as the maximum sentence for sending a false distress message is up to six years in prison and a $250,000 fine. For making a false statement, he faces up to five years in prison and a fine of $250,000. Finally; he could also be looking at two years as well as a $10,000 fine for sending an unlicensed radio transmission. Trouble indeed.

Oh yeah, he is a serial “boy who cries wolf”. He was sentenced to two years in prison and $24,000 in fines for doing the same thing back in 2004.

We will see what the judge says this time round.

More info:

David Johnston

David Johnston

David Johnston has been introducing people to the sport of sea kayaking for the past 15 years. He is a senior instructor trainer with Paddle Canada and teaches for several paddling schools in Ontario, Canada. Full Bio.

Strategic partner

Paddle Canada Logo