Florida man who tried to ‘run to London’ across the Atlantic in human-sized hamster wheel arrested after standoff

6 September 2023, 13:51 | Updated: 8 September 2023, 12:11

The man was arrested after his journey was intercepted.
The man was arrested after his journey was intercepted. Picture: Twitter

By Jenny Medlicott

A man was arrested after he was intercepted by a Coast Guard for attempting to cross the Atlantic in a human-sized hamster wheel.

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Reza Baluchi, 44, faces federal charges after he was rescued 70 miles off the Georgia coast in a human-sized hamster wheel.

The Coast Guard cutter Valiant intercepted Mr Baluchi after they spotted him in the region on August 26.

He said he was planning to travel to London on his vessel after they questioned him.

Read more: Florida man who tried to ‘run to London’ across the Atlantic in human-sized hamster wheel ‘banned from sea’

“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 the US District Court said.

The “manifestly unsafe” vessel was described as a giant metal drum, with inflatable buoys on either side and paddles powered by a runner inside.

Mr Baluchi was reportedly unable to provide officials with registration papers for his water vessel before he claimed he was going to run the hamster wheel to London.

The man then threatened to kill himself with a 12-inch knife if anybody tried to stop him from completing the journey, and then went onto claim he had a bomb on board the vessel.

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The man claimed he was attempting to travel to London.
The man claimed he was attempting to travel to London. Picture: Twitter

After a two-day standoff, where the Coast Guard attempted to get him to disembark the vessel, he finally admitted on August 28 that he did not have a real bomb on board.

Officers were then able to get him to leave the vessel a day later at the USCG Base in Miami Beach, Florida.

The criminal complaint also read: "The Vessel was occupied with one male passenger, later identified as Baluchi.

“Upon arriving at the Vessel, USCG officers asked standard boarding questions, to include requesting the registration of the Vessel.

"Baluchi informed the USCG officers that he had a Florida registration on board his Vessel, but he was unable to locate it.

"He also advised USCG officers his intended destination was London, England."

The Flagler County Sheriff’s Office wrote on Twitter: “This morning, the FCSO responded to a call about a vessel washing ashore in the Hammock area.

“Thank you to the concerned citizens who reported this. We are happy to announce that the occupant of the vessel is safe with no injuries!”

Court documents suggest this was not the first time Mr Baluchi has attempted such extreme voyages.

In 2014, 2016 and 2021 he attempted similar journeys but they all ended in Coast Guard intervention, according to the documents.

In 2021 he made national news after he attempted to travel from Florida to New York by similar means but washed ashore just 25 miles into the journey.

He faces charges of obstruction of a boarding, and violation of a Captain of the Port order.

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