A Davis County prosecutor said the state needs a law that would make individuals who deliberately launch an unneeded search and rescue effort liable for the cost of the operation.
The call from Davis County Attorney Mel Wilson and other county authorities comes after a man disappeared, spurring an extensive search on Antelope Island in the Great Salt Lake, and now he is believed to still be alive.Alma Tolman, 23, disappeared from his campsite on Antelope Island last month.
Now investigators have determined Tolman is alive and had engineered the disappearance to escape family problems - specifically, an upcoming wedding.
Sheriff's Sgt. David Flukiger said the search cost tens of thousands of dollars in personnel and donated equipment.
Prosecutors said it would be difficult to get Tolman to pay the cost of his search because there is no statute in Utah that allows government agencies to hold someone liable for staging their own disappearance.
"He would have had to have done it to willingly defraud the county," said Deputy County Attorney Gary McKean.
But Wilson said there should be some legislation to create a law to hold people financially responsible for false searches.