On March 28, 2004 Humboldt County Sheriff’s Deputies and personnel from the US Coast Guard began an extensive search after it was reported that a man had been swept out to sea after being knocked off the North Jetty by a wave. However, authorities were unable to locate anybody in the water.
The follow-up investigation has lead Sheriff’s Detectives to believe that the alleged victim, Karl Johnsen, 41 of McKinleyville, is actually alive and in Montana. Although the investigation is not complete, it appears that Johnsen and a friend may have staged the “drowning” so that Johnsen could avoid prosecution in a marijuana case in Del Norte County.
The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office is continuing the investigation and is working with officials in Montana. Once the investigation is complete, Sheriff’s Detectives will forward their findings to the District Attorney’s Office. It is a misdemeanor to make a false report of an “emergency.” Anyone convicted of making such a false report can be fined and/or sentenced to up to one year in the county jail. One can also be sentenced to pay for the cost of resources wasted in the search.