Coast Guard says missing boat report off Monterey Coast may be hoax

February 26, 2013 11:33:42 AM PST
The Coast Guard has suspended its search for a sailboat that may have disappeared off the Monterey Coast two days ago. A Coast Guard official is now calling the distress call that prompted the search a possible hoax.

The search had expanded beyond the immediate area off the Central Coast near Monterey -- all the way to Hawaii and the Pacific Northwest. The Coast Guard has had no sign of the boat or the people who were on it.

"After two days of active searching and covering over 20,000 miles, roughly the size of West Virginia, the sector commander has made the determination to suspend active searching on this case," said Search & Rescue Coordinator Cmdr. Don Montoro.

They tried one more time this morning; a C130 carrying a search crew took off from Sacramento just before 7 a.m.. It joined a cutter that spent the night out on the water looking for the missing family of four. There has been no sign of the boat or the people since Sunday afternoon. The only evidence officials have to go on is two radio calls.

"Coast Guard, Coast Guard we are abandoning ship. This is the Charm Blow. We are abandoning ship," said one of the distress calls.

The man on the call told the Coast Guard he was onboard with a woman and two children and that the boat was taking on water. But no one has come forward to report anyone missing or identify the family. The Coast Guard has not found any record of a sailboat by that name in their database, or with any marinas or harbors in California. The search and rescue coordinator responded to questions over whether this call was a fake one.

"We are not investigating it directly as a hoax, but I will say that we are pursuing every avenue and that certainly is a possibility," said Montoro. The case has similarities to two hoaxes last year Texas and New Jersey. In both of those cases authorities got a radio call of distress, which turned out to be fake calls.

The Coast Guard commander said they will continue to treat this call as a legitimate one, until proven otherwise.

"From our perspective, it really doesn't matter whether it's a hoax or an actual search. We approach every search as if it is our own children," said Montoro.

The Coast Guard has spent hundreds of thousands on the case. They will continue to investigate the case and follow up on any leads.


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