SANDUSKY, Ohio - A Sandusky man was sentenced to prison time after authorities say he made a fake distress call that triggered a massive search of Lake Erie.
Danik Shiv Kumar, 21, pleaded guilty to one count of making a false distress call. He was sentenced to three months in federal custody, ordered to pay $489,007 and must perform 250 hours of community service.
United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio Steven M. Dettelbach said Kumar was flying a Cessna single-engine plane from Burke Lakefront Airport to Bowling State University on March 14, 2012. During the flight, Kumar called the Cleveland-Hopkins International Airport control tower and said a boat was "launching up flares," court documents said.
"…a 25-foot fishing vessel I guess you could say. Everyone had a life jacket with a strobe light. I counted four of them," Kumar told the control tower.
Two Coast Guard boats searched Lake Erie; one spent 21 hours on the water looking for a distressed fishing boat that didn't exist. A rescue helicopter from the Coast Guard station in Detroit and a plane from the Canadian Coast Guard were also part of the search.
Kumar later admitted that he never saw signal flares or a boat in distress. Court documents said he even knew the Coast Guard was searching, but decided not to report the truth.
Kumar will also be on supervised release for three years once he is out of prison.