Local News

NC man pleads guilty to fake 'mayday' calls

Posted May 2, 2014

— An Atlantic Beach man pleaded guilty in federal court Friday to making false distress calls last year to the U.S. Coast Guard.

Homer Lewis Blackburn, 27, faces up to six years in prison and a $250,000 fine when he is sentenced, U.S. Attorney Thomas G. Walker said. He also could be ordered to pay restitution in the rescue operation that cost about $288,000.

Authorities said Blackburn made a “mayday” call to the Coast Guard on Oct. 8, claiming that he was sinking and abandoning his boat near Cape Lookout and Shackleford Banks. The Coast Guard led a search effort that included help from U.S. Marines, the National Park Service and a private salvage company.

A witness later told authorities that the call was a hoax perpetrated by Blackburn, who mounted a CB radio to the balcony of his Atlantic Beach apartment to make the call. The witness said Blackburn watched from his balcony as helicopters searched Cape Lookout.

Another witness came forward and said Blackburn was bragging about the calls. Blackburn later confessed.

“False distress calls limit the Coast Guard’s ability to respond to actual emergencies,” Capt. Sean Murtagh, commander of the Coast Guard’s North Carolina sector, said in a statement. “Ultimately, they penalize the local communities and mariners the Coast Guard is charged to protect by unnecessarily endangering the lives of responders and wasting hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars.”


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  • Naysayer May 5, 2014

    Weird, too much free time on his hands I guess.

  • ecp1951 May 2, 2014

    hope he is convicted and required to reimburse the emergency responders for the cost of the search effort. then we'll see if he'll still be laughing!

  • -Enter Screen Name- May 2, 2014

    Funny coincidence - I just read an article today that explained the origin of the term 'Mayday'.

  • Rodney Hill May 2, 2014
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    +1. At 27 yo, there's no "I didn't know" excuse.

  • jay82308 May 2, 2014

    "Authorities said Blackburn may a “mayday” call" It should be "made" not "may." Typos run rampant.

  • Obamacare returns again May 2, 2014

    View quoted thread

    You mean like "Authorities said Blackburn may a “mayday” call...."

  • lasm May 2, 2014

    Although I would applaud the conviction and almost all of the charges he faces, I still could not get over the lack of due diligence of the "typist" of this article. Typographical errors, to me, show a lack of respect for the job entrusted to this employee, to his/her employer and the readers.

  • Wacky_dood May 2, 2014

    I hope the judge makes an example of this guy...