NORTH MIAMI, Fla., April 30 (UPI) -- Authorities in Florida said they arrested a man whose hoax report of a boat crash sparked a sea and air search.
Investigators allege Willie Lawyer Jr., 43, of North Miami, called 911 at about 9 p.m. Monday and said he and two friends had been thrown into the water off Haulover Inlet when their boat collided with another vessel and sank, The Miami Herald reported Friday.
A search was launched but no sign of wreckage or the reported victims were found, police said. They said Lawyer called 911 again about 5 hours after his initial call and told authorities he and his friends had been rescued by a good Samaritan.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission investigators said they were unable to locate the two men allegedly with Lawyer on the boat and no wreckage was found.
"What concerns us the most -- here we are tying up very critical assets in a hoax search and rescue," said Officer Jorge Pino of the FWC. "God forbid someone at the same time had a real emergency -- lives are at stake."
Authorities said Lawyer had an open warrant for charges including cocaine trafficking and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. He was charged with filing a false statement.