Surfer could face $4,000 fine if passerby calls 911 again

An Ottawa surfer who rides the Ottawa River waves has caused multiple 911 calls from concerned passersby. Those false alarms could lead to a $4,000 fine for the surfer.

David Crichton, who surfs on the Ottawa River, was rescued Saturday though he didn't need help

A few surfers on the Ottawa River are crashing and passersby think they're drowning. 1:56

A surfer who tackles the Ottawa River waves says well-meaning passersby are calling 911 for a water rescue, which could lead to a "public mischief" fine.

David Crichton frequently rides the river waves near the Remic Rapids, hoping for a "dessert wave" that provides an unexpected treat when water levels are high.

Crichton said that happened on Saturday when he was spotted crashing into the water. A passerby called 911 in fear he was in danger.

Water rescue crews from Ottawa Fire Services responded and brought the surfer back to shore, even though he didn't need assistance.

"No one wants to see emergency responses continue like this," Crichton said. "I want to see if we can find a solution to preventing the false alarms."

3 false alarms in 2 weeks

This was not the first false alarm for Crichton. It was the third total for him and his brother over the last two weeks.

David Crichton says police warned him that another false alarm call to 911 could mean a $4,000 charge against him, but all parties want a permanent solution. (CBC)
Police told Crichton if bystanders continue to call 911, surfers believed to be in trouble could face a $4,000 fine for mischief.

Ottawa firefighter Bob Rainboth named one solution that could prevent these false alarms, suggesting paddlers and surfers should use a buddy system so bystanders don't mistake surfing for flailing.

Rainboth did say a 911 call is a judgment call for bystanders trying to help. There are many people who do need help in the water, so he wants people to remain alert along the shore.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.