By Brandi Makuski
A 20-year-old man is being held behind bars on a cash bond after sending emergency crews on a wild goose chase.
Zachary V. Linzmeier, of Wisconsin Rapids, called 911 at 4:07 AM Sunday to report a boat had struck the north side of the Verso Corp. dam, telling dispatchers three people needed to be rescued from the Wisconsin River. First responders on the scene later discovered the call was a hoax.
Multiple agencies responded to the call, including Metro Fire units from Stevens Point, Plover and Hull, as well as two search helicopters, Stevens Point police and deputies from the Portage Co. Sheriff’s Office.
Assistant Police Chief Tom Zenner said additional crews were en route, and crews on the scene were searching the water in boats and waders, having already begun to fear the worst, when it was discovered Linzmeier’s claim of a boating accident was a hoax.
“There were no other individuals present, and there was no boat,” Zenner said.
According to the criminal complaint, Linzmeier also allegedly broke into the Verso Corp. mill and caused damage, and fell into the water as a result of his breaking windows. Police say he was intoxicated at the time with a 0.183 blood alcohol content.
Linzmeier had emerged from the river on his own by the time crews arrived, and was later treated for hypothermia at Ministry St. Michael’s.
Linzmeier appeared in court on Monday, when he was ordered held on $5,000 cash bond. Portage Co. District Attorney Louis Molepske said he plans to charge Linzmeier with reckless endangerment, burglary, criminal damage to property, disorderly conduct and resisting or obstructing an officer.
Assistant Chief Tony Babl said the police department is “considering” how and if to ask for restitution from Linzmeier. Babl said he did not immediately know the cost of the high-level emergency response.
Linzmeier returns to court for an initial appearance Nov. 9.