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The Sol e Mar Tragedy Off Martha’s Vineyard

Price of a hoax mayday

The Sol e Mar Tragedy Off Martha’s Vineyard (The History Press, $19.99) details how a hoax mayday received immediately after a legitimate distress call prompted the Coast Guard to refrain from launching a rescue mission, resulting in the death of a father-son commercial fishing crew. The Coast Guard believed Billy Hokanson’s March 1990 distress call was related to the hoax and did not launch a rescue for several days. The deaths prompted a new hoax law and changed search-and-rescue procedures. Retired Coast Guard Capt. W. Russ Webster and journalist Elizabeth B. Webster chronicle the story, exploring the psychology of hoax callers and detailing the Coast Guard’s technological advancements since the tragedy.

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December 2014 issue