WARRENSBURG - A bogus report of a serious rollover crash radioed in recently to county emergency dispatchers sent rescue personnel scrambling, and now police believe they've arrested the perpetrator.
The Warren County Sheriff's Office reported Monday they arrested Nicholas D. Jones, 18, of Lafond Way, Minerva on a Misdemeanor charge of third-degree Falsely Reporting an Incident.
On the evening of March 14, the Warren County Sheriff's Office Communications center received a radio report from an unknown person describing a motor vehicle crash with entrapment.
The person calling in the report did not identify himself and the dispatcher was unable to re-establish contact with the caller. Emergency Coordinator Brian LaFlure said that a series of three calls reported the crash and they originated from a particular mobile radio installed in a car or truck.
The crash supposedly involved a vehicle that had rolled over into a ditch, and that children were trapped inside and needed to be extricated, the caller reported.
County Sheriff's Committee Chairman Bill VanNess said that volunteer emergency responders from various agencies spread out in the upcounty region looking for a crash, but none was found.
The bogus call was placed by using a legal two-way radio that had been outfitted to operate on county Emergency Medical Service frequencies, officials said.
County emergency officials called EMS agencies throughout the county, and asked them to account for their members to assure they weren't involved in a crash, county Sheriff Bud York said Tuesday. All members were accounted for and no accidents were located, he said.
"Volunteers put in enough hours, and when they have to go out to respond to a bogus complaint, it's troublesome," he said.
An investigation ensued, and police determined that Nicholas Jones may have been the person making the radio transmission. York declined to say specifically how they identified Jones as a suspect, although LaFlure said last week the authorities had a recording of the call and were analyzing it to determine the caller's identity.
"All I can say is our investigators did a great job," York said.
On April 1, police interviewed Jones and he admitted to making the transmissions, York said. Jones told police that he was under the influence of marijuana at the time and was not thinking clearly, authorities said. Jones is not presently affiliated with any area fire of EMS agency.
York said Tuesday that county communications officials were taking steps to upgrade the radio system so calls could be only received from authorized sources and could be traced to a particular vehicle and location. Tuesday, County Sheriff's Office Communications Supervisor and LaFlure were busy developing these plans, York said.