2011-08-25 / Front Page

Teen Charged With Making False Reports

Restitution could be sought for fire companies’ time in search
By Chanin Rotz-Mountz

Three area fire companies spent almost four hours searching a wooded area outside of the village of Knobsville for a lost child after 911 dispatchers received what turned out to be a prank call. The call logged in late June was among at least 162 false alarms allegedly made over a several day time frame by a 13- year-old girl, Pennsylvania State Police reported this week.

In addition to facing 162 counts each of false reports to law enforcement authorities and disorderly conduct as well as six counts of false reports to agencies of public safety, the juvenile could also be be required to pay any restitution associated with the search and rescue effort, Trooper Ellis Barnett of the Mc- Connellsburg barracks told the “News.”

According to a news release prepared by the trooper, the girl reportedly used a pre-paid wireless phone to make false reports to the county’s 911 dispatch center located in Cumberland County between June 26 and June 28.

The majority of the prank calls, which included multiple hang-ups, Trooper Barnett said, can be associated with two main incidents. The first episode occurred on June 26 when the girl is accused of anonymously reporting a fight in progress with gunshots fired.

Police said the girl refrained from giving her name and the location of the alleged fight during the initial call. After the call was patched through to state police in McConnellsburg, the 911 center was able to “ping” the call in order to help pinpoint the location of the caller.

Trooper Barnett stated the initial “ping” led him to the end of Blackberry Lane just off Great Cove Road in Todd Township. A follow-up took him further north to Skip’s Lane. However, in spite of repeated searches troopers were unable to locate the alleged incident.

“We thought it was a hoax, but then the calls started back up again in the afternoon,” said the trooper.

The following day, Barnett noted, the same girl is accused of providing the 911 center with a false name and reporting she was lost and injured in a wooded area. Three local fire companies, including Hustontown, Mc- Connellsburg and MMP&W, were dispatched at around 11 p.m. to help in the search and rescue effort just outside of Knobsville.

Fifty-six firefighters scoured the woods for almost four hours before calling off the search, which was referred to by one fire chief as a “wild goose chase.” Barnett said that upon turning 18, the girl could be held liable for the personnel and equipment costs associated with the search. He added he is still working on the restitution issue, but the amount that could be requested is “pretty significant.”

Trooper Barnett said the case was solved and a confession was obtained from the juvenile after Cpl. Sean Flaherty, also of the McConnellsburg barracks, spent much time and effort tracking down phone records needed in the case.

Charges against the juvenile have been filed through the Fulton County Juvenile Probation Department.

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