Authorities charge man for false alarm water rescue

CRITTENDEN COUNTY, Ark. – A multi-agency nighttime water rescue that turned out to be a false alarm cost taxpayers more than $3,000, the Crittenden County Sheriff’s Office revealed to WREG.

“People work hard for their money and we pay these taxes. We don’t need to be wasting it on frivolous things,” said Chief Todd Grooms.

Grooms said Joshua Tate called authorities July 11 to report that two teenagers were drowning in a lake inside the Lakeshore mobile home park.

It prompted them to enlist the help of search crews from at least five different agencies and the Memphis Police Department's helicopter as they combed the lake for about three hours.

They’ve now arrested and charged Tate with communicating a false alarm, but Tate told WREG he was only trying to do the right thing.

“I come out and I heard some people screaming help,” said Tate, who WREG confirmed once worked as a sheriff’s deputy in Mississippi.

Tate said heard two distinct voices and jumped in the lake to try to save them while his friend called 911.

“By the time I got to the middle (of the lake), it was dark as hell. If anybody were out there, they could’ve swam over to the other side,” said Tate.

But rescue crews told WREG on July 11 that they found no one in the lake and that no one had been reported missing.

Tate’s neighbor, Sandra Michie, confirmed Tate was in the lake and didn’t make the 911 call. She said doesn’t think he did anything wrong.

“You think that there’s a child needing help and you try to rescue this child and you get charged for trying to rescue a child?” Michie said.

Under Arkansas law, the Sheriff’s Office could try to make Tate pay for the cost of the search.

Tate said he intends to fight the charge.