The investigation into a hoax distress call to the Coast Guard in Carteret County has led to the indictment of a suspect by a federal grand jury.
Homer Lewis Blackburn was indicted last week.
In an interview, NewsChannel 12’s Jon Erickson asked Blackburn if he made the hoax call.
“Yes, I did,” Blackburn said.
“I messed up big… I'm a commercial fisherman and I realize what I did was a real big mistake,” Blackburn said.
The 26 year old communicated “false distress messages to the United States Coast Guard and caused the United States Coast Guard to attempt to save lives and property when no help was needed” on October 8, according to the indictment.
Blackburn lives in Carteret County.
The Coast Guard received the distress call at approximately 10:30 p.m. on October 8, from a male who stated his boat was failing on the ocean side of Shackleford Island, near Beaufort.
The Coast Guard never found any signs of boat wreckage.
According to U.S. law, if convicted, Blackburn would be guilty of a felony, subject to a penalty of up to $5,000, and liable for “all costs the Coast Guard incurs as a result of the individual’s action.”
Blackburn said the Coast Guard estimated the cost of the search to be $300,000.
The Coast Guard received several more suspected hoax calls during October and Novermber in Carteret and Craven counties.
Blackburn has only been formally accused in connection with the October 8 incident.
He denies involvement in any call but the October 8 incident.
Blackburn said he would not make the again if he could live that night again.
"I wasted [the Coast Guard's] time, I feel really bad about it," he said.