Florida man arrested for trying to cross Atlantic in human-powered hamster wheel

Suspect told Coast Guard officers he had a bomb on vessel as he refused to board cutter

Graeme Massie
Los Angeles
Tuesday 05 September 2023 23:05 BST

Stranded boaters celebrate as Coast Guard locates them

A Florida man was arrested after a bizarre three-day standoff at sea with the US Coast Guard for trying to cross the Atlantic in a human-powered hamster wheel.

Reza Baluchi faces federal charges after he was found 70 miles off the Georgia coast with Hurricane Franklin taking aim at the eastern seaboard, reported The Daily Beast.

The USS Coast Guard cutter Valiant was in the region when they spotted Mr Baluchi and intercepted him. When questioned during the 26 August incident Mr Baluchi said he was heading for London on his vessel.

“Based on the condition of the vessel – which was afloat as a result of wiring and buoys – USCG officers determined Baluchi was conducting a manifestly unsafe voyage,” the criminal complaint filed in US District Court in Florida states.

Mr Baluchi then allegedly threatened to kill himself with a 12-inch knife if anyone tried to arrest him and also claimed to have a bomb onboard his craft.

On 28 August, after days of trying to get Mr Baluchi to board Coast Guard vessels, he admitted that he did not have a real bomb and a day later officers were able to get him to disembark.

The suspect was brought ashore on 1 September at the USCG Base in Miami Beach, Florida.

It is reportedly not the first time Mr Baluchi has tried an extreme voyage on his vessel.

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