U.S. Coast Guard investigates fake mayday call on Lake St. Clair

It was all hands on deck. The United States Coast Guard dispatched a chopper and crews in response to three frantic distress calls on the water.

It turns out each call for help was a hoax.

The coast guard's search for a sinking ship was all across Lake St. Clair from Metro Beach to Canada and along the Detroit River.

The quiet late Saturday afternoon across Metro Detroit was interrupted by a chilling call for help.

The US Coast Guard picked up three "maydays" clearly received on the Channel 16 distress call radio. Fox 2 has the actual calls the Coast Guard recorded.

"We ended up getting three separate mayday calls over the course of maybe three minutes," said Lt. JG Spencer McFarland. "Once they said mayday we went immediately into search and rescue mode."

They launched an expensive instant response. The helicopter airborne and the helicopter crew began an immediate water search. The chopper also coordinated with several key additional resources.

"We launched a small boat, we launched a helicopter, we were working with Canada earlier that day and so we asked them to help," McFarland said. "We were out searching and we had some Macomb County Sheriffs helping out with us and some border patrol agents."

They searched all along the Detroit River.  One of the distress calls identified Metro Beach as a location, so the search was widened to include Lake St. Clair, the full scale elaborate search of the shoreline, the lake, as well as the Detroit River - all turned up nothing.

The search included contact with anyone who was on the water to see if they had seen trouble. It all started in daylight and continued after sunset for two more hours.

"Luckily for us it was a perfect night for searching," McFarland said. "We pretty much covered all of Lake St. Clair between Canada and the U.S. and we didn't find (anything). Only a few boats were out there and they didn't see anything."

Making a prank or hoax mayday call for help is a felony. For now this is classified as an uncorrelated mayday - meaning it could not be determined who made the call. But clearly this is dangerous.

The Coast Guard is continuing to investigate these suspicious maydays. If you have information about who may be responsible call any Coast Guard station and report what you know.

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