A Florida man who tried to run across the Atlantic Ocean to London using a makeshift hamster wheel has been arrested.
Reza Baluchi, 44, was spotted about 70 miles off Georgia by the US Coast Guard (USCG) – and allegedly claimed he wanted to keep going all the way to the UK on 26 August.
According to court documents, the USCG judged the makeshift boat was “manifestly unsafe” and kept afloat by buoys and wiring.
His voyage began just days before Hurricane Franklin – a category four storm at its peak – hit parts of the Caribbean and moved towards the US.
But Mr Baluchi refused to step off the vessel for three days until officers managed to safely extract him and bring him back to shore two days later, court papers state.
“Baluchi informed the USCG officers that he had a Florida registration on board his vessel, but he was unable to locate it,” court documents state.
“He also advised USCG officers his intended destination was London, England.”
Mr Baluchi showed officers he was armed with two 12in knives – the size of a 30cm ruler – and would attempt to kill himself if they tried to remove him, the documents add.
Officers remained on the scene and on the next day, 27 August, Mr Baluchi allegedly threatened to “blow himself up”.
The USCG said they “believed this to be a valid threat” according to the documents, as he held wires in his hand.
This prompted officers to call in bomb disposal experts, before he admitted the threat was a hoax on 28 August, shortly after officers tried to deliver food and water.
“USCG officers believed this to be a valid threat, as they observed Baluchi holding wires in his hand,” the court papers state.
“USCG officers contacted the US Navy Explosive Ordinance Disposal Unit at Kings Bay, Georgia to determine blast and fragmentation radius of the alleged bomb.”
The documents added: “USCG officers again ordered Baluchi off the vessel, but he again refused. It was then that Baluchi informed the USCG officers that the bomb was not real.”
On 29 August, officers brought Mr Baluchi off the vessel and into a small boat and took him ashore on 1 September.
This marked the end of Mr Baluchi’s latest run-in with the coast guard, the papers allege, with previous incidents involving a similar homemade vessel in 2014, 2016 and 2021.
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