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Hoax calls continue to plague Coast Guard

JAN. 2 — Last week, Gregory Clayton Askew, 44, of Astoria, Ore., was sentenced to two months in prison and fined $60,502 for making a phony 911 call to the Coast Guard in 2004, stating that he had fallen off a hiking trail into the Pacific Ocean south of Cannon Beach and could not swim, according to the Coast Guard.

Already facing indictment in Columbia County, Ore., on charges of assault, criminal mistreatment and kidnapping charges, Askew said he made the hoax call to disappear and avoid dealing with his problems, according to the Coast Guard. Two Coast Guard helicopters with two pilots each, a flight mechanic and a rescue swimmer reportedly combed the area for six hours.

Another local resident Jesse Murphy, 27, also recently entered a guilty plea for faking his own death in 2004 to avoid legal consequences in upcoming criminal trials. In April of 2004, Murphy’s girlfriend drove him to EcolaState Park where he took his surfboard and threw it into the ocean. As his friends drove Murphy to their house, his girlfriend waited 15 minutes and then called the Coast Guard, reporting that her boyfriend had fallen off his surfboard and had not resurfaced.

An estimated $94,150 and 10 hours later, the Coast Guard, state and local police, and search and rescue personnel gave up the search, according to the Coast Guard. Murphy could be asked to reimburse the entire amount spent on his rescue if he is proven guilty.

— Elizabeth Ellis