Florida Man Riding Human-Sized Hamster Wheel Arrested on Federal ChargesSeptember 8, 2023
Baluchi told the Coast Guard's crew that he was attempting to ride the man-made wheel, which he called a "hydro-pod" all the way to England.
A Florida man has been arrested on federal charges after using a man-made hamster wheel in an attempt to cross the Atlantic Ocean.
According to a criminal complaint filed in Miami, it took the U.S. Coast Guard five days to bring Reza Baluchi, 51, to shore.
Per the filing, the Coast Guard spotted Baluchi 70 miles off the coast of Tybee Island, George on August 26, where he was preparing for Hurricane Franklin.
Baluchi told the Coast Guard’s crew that he was attempting to ride the man-made wheel, which he called a “hydro-pod” all the way to England, and claimed he had Florida registration, which he was unable to locate for them, onboard.
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Per the complaint, the Coast Guard officers, who say the “hydro-pod” vessel was kept afloat as a result of “wiring and buoys,” determined that Baluchi was conducting “a manifestly unsafe voyage.”
They made several attempts to get Baluchi to leave the vessel, with the 51-year-old Florida resident allegedly threatening to harm himself on several occasions — first with a knife, and a second time by blowing himself.
When officers saw Baluchi holding wires, they contacted the U.S. Navy Explosive Ordinance Disposal Unit to help them determine the blast radius of the alleged bomb they say he was threatening to blow himself up with.
On Aug. 28, the Coast Guard cutters Campbell and Valiant arrived on scene to offer support to the assisting crew and to Baluchi, sending a small boat to deliver food and water to him, as well as give him predictions for the impending hurricane.
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Per the report, they again ordered Baluchi off the hamster wheel, but once again, he refused. He did however admit that the alleged bomb he was threatening to blow himself up with was not real.
Baluchi was successfully removed from the vessel Aug. 29 and on September 1, he was brought to the Coast Guard base in Miami Beach where he was later arrested and charged with obstruction of boarding and violation of a captain of the port order.
This isn’t the first time Baluchi has attempted this kind of stunt. Per the complaint, back in 2014, he tried to sail across the Atlantic in a similar homemade vessel, and a year later was served a captain of the port order from the Coast Guard forbidding him from attempting any further voyages.
Baluchi failed to comply with the order, and was officially interdicted in a homemade vessel in 2016. His most recent attempt came in 2021, with the Coast Guard intervening then as well.
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