Nanticoke man charged with making prank calls to fire department
Feb 27, 2013 (The Citizens' Voice - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
A Nanticoke man was charged today with making prank phone calls that sent firefighters scrambling to find nonexistent people in distress, according to state police.
Lee Anthony Beatty, 50, is charged with reporting false alarms to a public safety agency and reckless endangerment, according to police.
Beatty is accused of calling 911 three times to report false emergencies -- in one case sending out boats and rescuers who searched the Susquehanna River for about 2 1/2 hours before realizing no one was in danger.
"It does get frustrating," said Andy Novak, deputy chief of the Plymouth Township Fire-Rescue Tilbury Station in West Nanticoke, which was called out to the three false emergencies since December. "We're
not there for somebody's amusement."
According to state police, Beatty first called the department Dec. 31 at 8:46 p.m. to report a four- or five-car pileup had taken place between a diner and the Garden Drive-in.
Then on Jan. 11 at 7:31 p.m., Beatty again called to report a vehicle had gone off the road, possibly landing in the Susquehanna River.
On Feb. 7, Beatty phoned in a report of a truck fire in front of a diner, according to state police.
In each case, the calls came from a pay phone at a Sunoco gas station at state Routes 29 and 11 in Plymouth Township, police said.
Novak said firefighters wasted about 30 to 40 minutes each on the vehicle crash calls, but the report of a car in the river took about 2 1/2 hours because officials had to summon water-rescue equipment, including three boats, and search for a possibly submerged vehicle.
While firefighters weren't put in a position to have to miss a real emergency as a result of the pranks, they were put at potential risk by having to navigate icy roads, Novak said.
"There's no use sending us out on the road when we don't have to be," he said.
State police said they were alerted to the series of false reports Feb. 8, and investigators collected video surveillance footage from the area. Firefighters were able to recognize Beatty and his vehicle, police said.
Court officials say a summons to appear in court was mailed to Beatty today.
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