The dramatic U.S. Coast Guard rescue of a jet skier who ventured into the rough Manasquan Inlet yesterday and fell from his watercraft has many asking the same question.
Who pays for a Coast Guard rescue?
In the comments under a video posted on JSHN minutes after the rescue ended, the overwhelming majority say that the man, who they say needlessly endangered himself and the rescuers, should foot the bill.
But unless the Coast Guard responds to a hoax call, there’s no charge.
“If you get yourself in trouble, regardless of the circumstances, that doesn’t weigh into any factor in our response,” Commander Erin MacDonald, chief of the Coast Guard’s office for Search and Rescue Policy, told TIME in a 2009 interview.
Lt. Anna Dixon told NBC in 2014 that the Coast Guard “does not charge for search and rescue operations,” adding that the agency does not want people to hesitate to call for help.
But for anyone convicted of perpetrating a hoax, in addition to civil and criminal penalties, the reimbursement cost could be staggering.
The hourly rates — you can see them here — reach into the thousands.