2 Men Fined For Setting Off Flares At Wedding, Starting Coast Guard Search

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WBZ NewsRadio)— Two Rhode Island men reached an agreement to pay fines for causing a "needless and expensive" Coast Guard search last summer, according to the Department of Justice.

Perry Phillips, 31, and Benjamin Foster, 33, were both fined $5,000 each for an incident on June 6, 2020 when the pair set off flares from a small boat off of Block Island to celebrate a friends wedding. Observers from the shore saw the flares and alerted the Coast Guard.

The pair had borrowed a nautical flare gun and flares planning to shoot them off to celebrate a friend's wedding. They shot off three flares from a small skiff near the reception and documented it on social media, before returning to the shore.

Witnesses on the shore reported the flares to the Coast Guard, believing them to be a distress signal. The Coast Guard and local authorities then launched a multi-hour search for the the boat that fired the flares, without knowing the men who shot them had already returned to shore.

"At least one of the two knew at the time that the flares were a maritime distress signal, and both understood that it was improper to use them as they did," the DOJ said in a statement.

Federal law dictates that falsely shooting off a distress flare when no help is needed is illegal. The two men reached an agreement to pay a statutory civil penalty of $10,000.

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