False alarm may day call sends authorities frantically searching amidst government shutdown

Posted: 10:56 AM, Jan 21, 2018
Updated: 2018-01-21 15:56:59Z

A distress call was made to Cuyahoga Valley National Park Saturday night, causing panic.

But authorities say the may day call turned out to be a false alarm. The call was originally thought to have come from the park, but it actually came from inside the IX Center where the boat show is happening, the Summit County Sheriff's Department said.

The search was called off and deemed a false alert, but not before a search effort that lasted almost two hours for a person they thought was in distress.

Around 7:15 p.m., the may day caller asked, "Can you hear us?" Then the call ended. Officers from Sagamore Hills, Brecksville, the Summit County Sheriff's Department and the Coast Guard all searched the banks along the Cuyahoga River inside the park.

The effects of the government shutdown were felt during this situation with no national park rangers around to respond to the call. Luckily, no one was actually hurt or in need of help, but had they been, no rangers would have been in to help.

The call ended up going to the Coast Guard tower in Avon Lake. They say radio activity pointed them towards the park. The search was eventually suspended just after 9:30 p.m.

Officials say it may be difficult to pinpoint exactly how this call came from the IX Center, because thousands of people are attending the boat show this weekend. It may be difficult to determine if the call was made accidentally or while testing the equipment.