A hoax caller has been slated for potentially putting lives at risk when emergency services spent two hours searching a fast-flowing waterway in Co. Meath.
A garda investigation is now underway after ambulance crews, gardaí, fire services and the Meath River Rescue personnel were all deployed to extensively comb a central area in Navan where the caller said a man had jumped off a bridge into the River Blackwater
The busy thoroughfare at Flower Hill was closed during the search, activated after gardaí received a call to the station at 10.45pm on Friday night.
Gardaí traced the origins of the call and, determining it to be a hoax, stood down the search after two hours.
The incident was described as 'a complete waste of resources which potentially put lives at risk," by Meath Crime Prevention Officer Sgt Dean Kerins.
"All these services were tied up at a hoax call and may have been unable to get to another destination in the case of a real emergency," he said.
"If another call had come in, there would have been a delay in getting the services there which could have put lives at risk,
"Added to this, the river was in heavy flood and the wellbeing of the emergency services were put in jeopardy too if anyone had fallen in from the banks or the boats.
"Investigations are ongoing and we hope the matter will be resolved quickly."
Meanwhile Meath River Rescue chairman Christopher Rennicks described the hoax call as 'a disgrace.'
"We had three boats out on the river as soon as we got the call. The fire services, two ambulances and gardaí were all there and a helicopter was on standby.
"The gardaí were constantly ringing the number of the phone that had called in the emergency but couldn't get an answer.
"We could have been badly needed elsewhere and we were tied up on a hoax call. It seems like they had no regard for the work the emergency services do or think of the families that have to spend hours at the waters edge hoping we recover their loved ones."
Last year, Meath River Rescue responded to 16 calls in total and recovered the remains of three people from the River Blackwater.