City Times Staff
A Wisconsin Rapids man has been sentenced for making a hoax 911 call last October.
Zachary V. Linzmeier, 20 of Wisconsin Rapids, will serve 30 days in jail. A nine-month sentence in jail was stayed, pending successful completion of two years on probation and 50 hours of community service.
Linzmeier is also facing steep fines after causing local emergency crews to organize a large-scale search for victims of a boating accident that never happened.
He also faces a bill of at least $2,650 to pay for emergency crews and equipment after reporting a fake emergency shortly after 4 AM on on Oct. 25. Law enforcement officials say Linzmeier called 911 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.
Crews from Portage County, Stevens Point, the Village of Plover and Town of Hull all responded to the scene. Stevens Point Assistant Police Chief Tom Zenner said some first responders were already in the water searching for bodies when it was discovered Linzmeier’s claim of a boating accident was fake.
Tony Babl, interim assistant chief for SPPD, said an entire shift of law enforcement responded to the riverfront for about an hour.
“So there was no protection and patrols in any other area of the city for that hour,” Babl said.
Chief Deputy Dan Kontos estimated the cost incurred to the sheriff’s office was about $250. He added the cost would have been higher if deputies had deployed their own air-boat, which it had been prepared to do.
“We also know there were two [medical] helicopters placed on standby to assist in the search,” Kontos said, “but those birds were not deployed.”
The biggest expense of the night comes from the Stevens Point Fire Department, which deployed six vehicles and one air-boat for the rescue.
“We’ve already got his bill ready,” said SPFD Chief Bob Finn last October. An invoice produced by the department reflects charges for the vehicles, as well as one hour of wages for 13 responding members of the department, mileage and administrative fees.
Linzmeier also broke into the Verso Corp. mill and caused damage, according to the criminal complaint, and fell into the water as a result of his breaking windows. He had emerged from the river on his own by the time crews arrived, and was later treated for hypothermia at Ministry St. Michael’s Hospital.
Police say he was intoxicated at the time with a 0.183 blood alcohol content.
Should Linzmeier violate his probation, he will serve a nine-month jail sentence, which has been stayed.