Coast Guard reports false distress calls have tripled on Lake Michigan

CHICAGO — Coast guard units in Chicago, Waukegan and Milwaukee report false distress calls have tripled on Lake Michigan this summer.

Most of those calls are originating in Chicago.

Representatives from the three stations in the Tri-State area held a news conference Tuesday morning to stress to the public the cost and danger of those bogus calls.

Just last weekend, as units responded to a pair of Maydays from boats caught in violent weather on the Chicago to Mackinac Race off Wisconsin, a series of obviously false S-O-S’s were being phoned in from on land near Diversey Harbor.

Loud music and party noise in the background prevented the calls from diverting resources from the actual emergencies up north.

‎Commander Leanne Lusk, Sector Lake Michigan Response Department Head, based in Milwaukee, said a rescue effort launched due to a false call lasts an average of three hours and can cost $60,000.

And she pointed out the unnecessary call can put responders in danger needlessly.

She added a Chicago man was sentenced earlier this year to six months in jail, and ordered to pay $28,000 in restitution for two false reports of a body in the Chicago River in 2014.

Some of the fake calls are from children playing on marine radios, so parents are asked to secure radios and teach their kids not to play with them.

Lusk says the government will continue to prosecute bogus distress callers.