Caller unaware claim was prank; department asks public to think of safety

Water rescue ends up false alarm

White River Township firefighters raced to a creek in a Center Grove area community Sunday night, fearful that a person was drowning in high waters.

The firefighters were prepared to search and hopefully rescue someone from a creek filled with extra water from a week of heavy rain.

But after searching the bank for any sign of a person in the water and talking to the residents, firefighters discovered the truth: the report was the result of concerned person who had been pranked, White River Township Fire Chief Jeremy Pell said.

The incident is not under investigation, but the fire department is asking the public to use it as a teaching moment, because telling another person a false report could result in emergency workers being at risk of injury and slow their responses to true emergencies, he said.

A person called 911 about 8 p.m. Sunday and said that someone was drowning in Pleasant Run Creek near the Center Grove Estates mobile home community, Pell said. The neighborhood is on County Line Road, between Railroad and Morgantown roads.

The person who called 911 had received information about the supposed drowning from another resident, who was actually playing a prank, Pell said.

The 911 caller, who was not aware of the prank, made the right decision by alerting the fire department immediately, Pell said.

But no one had gone into Pleasant Run Creek, and no one had been in any danger of drowning, Pell said.

Following a week of heavy rain, water in the creek was higher and moving faster than normal, and it would not have been safe for someone to be in the water, he said.

The White River Township and Greenwood fire departments both responded to the incident, sending a trio of trucks along the creek through the neighborhood. Once firefighters started talking with residents, it became clear that no one was in danger, he said.

“It’s something I would like to be a teaching moment, so people can realize we are so busy that a false call can take precious minutes away from an emergency,” he said.

False claims about an emergency create extra risks for first responders and drivers as emergency vehicles rush to a scene, Pell said.

Author photo
Jacob Tellers is a reporter at the Daily Journal. He can be reached at jtellers@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2702.