Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
The Almighty Buck Space

Nevada Governor to Bill Fossett Widow For Search 447

Posted by timothy
from the don't-forget-to-tip-your-searcher dept.
sonchat writes with news that Nevada's "Gov. Jim Gibbons intends to bill the widow of missing multimillionaire adventurer Steve Fossett for $687,000 the state spent in searching for the famed aviator last fall, a spokesman said." Though in some places charging for the cost of a search effort is routine, apparently in Nevada it is not.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Nevada Governor to Bill Fossett Widow For Search

Comments Filter:
  • It is? Really?

    Seriously, though, this is exceptionally lame. "We tried to find your husband.... and, uh, we didn't. All those helicopters, you know those aren't free..."
    • by oahazmatt (868057)
      Some states and cities are getting that attitude.

      Case in point, where I used to live, most of the county's traffic went through one particular city. The main road through that city was actually, at one time, one of the 10 most accident-prone roads in the US.

      So, the city attempted to have a bill introduced: If you didn't have a registered residential address in that city, and you were involved in the accident (not even at fault, just involved) the total costs for the Sheriff's Dept., EMS, Fire Rescue,
      • by mschuyler (197441)
        In my state (Washington) even if you are a resident of the city where you have an accident, the Fire Department is entitled to bill you for services rendered--this when you pay property taxes to support the fire department.
        • The proper response is to stop funding them and let them run themselves like a business, then. I'm no libertarian, but when they try to be both a tax-supported service and a business enterprise - well, screw them.
        • by sconeu (64226)
          In L.A., too. Called 911 (my wife was having a seizure of some sort), and received a lovely bill in the mail.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by SatanicPuppy (611928) *
        I'd consider that more of a grey area. Those people are paid specifically for traffic enforcement, cleanup, maintenance, etc, and the people who are in the accidents are liable for damages (through their insurance), and are on the road where they are supposed to be.

        In cases like this where someone gets themselves lost, it's a lot less clear-cut. The state usually puts forth a ton of effort to find these people, and often they end up eating thousands of dollars of rescue costs racked up by some joker who did
        • by iamacat (583406)

          The ones that really jerk my chain are the people who have zero competence and zero experience who are constantly getting stuck on mountains, lost in national parks, stranded in the ocean, etc, etc, etc. They need to be held accountable for their lack of planning.

          "We seem to have gotten a little lost on our Grand Canyon hike, but we can not afford the cost of a rescue helicopter. Let's just ignore our thirst and try to make it our ourselves. All it is is a little sunshine. What's the worst thing that could happen?"

          • by NonSequor (230139)
            It should be handled like emergency rooms. Treat everyone, bill everyone, collect from the ones who can afford to pay, and take a loss on the rest.
    • So you're advocating a sliding scale based on how much of him they found? Would you be arguing for them to pay if he HAD been found?

      Those searches are insanely expensive, and 99% of the time they're needed because the person who gets lost fails to take precautions.

      There is a point at which you need to take some responsibility for your own safety. You need to make sure people know where you're going, you need to make sure you can be found. Fossett did none of that, and cost the state a bundle looking for him
      • > So you're advocating a sliding scale based on how much of him they found?

        We found him, ma'm; that will be 500,000.

        Or, for 400,000, we could cut off a leg.
      • They should apply that principle to DB Cooper. If I found a finger bone, I could turn it in for $100!
      • by lymond01 (314120)
        Those searches are insanely expensive, and 99% of the time they're needed because the person who gets lost fails to take precautions.

        Meh. We pay taxes for precisely this sort of thing. I imagine there is a beancounter suggesting that there are X number of large scale operations per year vs Y number of days of training and Z number of hanging around waiting.

        I would say that the reason they're billing the widow is because she can afford it. The reason they shouldn't is because the person is dead. Bill the
        • by Zadaz (950521)

          Meh. We pay taxes for precisely this sort of thing.

          Maybe you do.

          If he wasn't marginally famous they wouldn't have spent 1/10th of that on the guy. The only way I could get a bill for $700,000 from the state is if I did an act of terrorism.

    • Especially since he didn't die. He flew off and then faked his own death for the insurance money.
      he now lives on an island with Elvis, Jims Hendrix and Morrisson, Tupac, and Steve Irwin.
      • ...lives on an island with Elvis, Jims Hendrix and Morrisson, Tupac, and Steve Irwin

        Where they party every night with Herve Villechaize.

        • by spun (1352)
          Speaking of Herve, did you hear that when he died, he left his wealth to a foundation he created, dedicated to providing free accommodations for little people who travel?

          They call them Herve Vilechaize's Stay Free Mini Pads.
      • You left out Jimmy Hoffa and Judge Crater (although ol' Joe *is* gettin' a bit long in the tooth).
    • by eln (21727)
      They could at least give some sort of money back guarantee, or work on contingency like lawyers do.

      "Okay, here's the deal. We'll go look for your husband, and you don't have to pay us anything unless we find him. But if do find him, we get one third of his estate."

      As far as she knows, they could have just flown some helicopters aimlessly around the desert for a couple of weeks and billed her for it. If the guy wasn't a billionaire, I doubt the idea of charging for the search would have ever entered their
      • Then the poor family is stuck trying to figure out if they want him found or not, and the state has no motive to look hard, because they're not likely to get their money back.

        In states that don't charge for rescues, the usual argument is that people wouldn't call if they needed rescue because they wouldn't want to pay. My thought is, if they REALLY needed rescue, they'd call.
        • by eln (21727)
          The state's motive to look hard is that the emergency services are taxpayer funded and the taxpayers want to know that if they get in trouble, the emergency services will do their best to help them. If the state is going to be checking your credit before they decide to rescue you, then emergency services are useless. You would be faced with the choice of either not getting rescued or being faced with a bill that for most people would ruin them financially.
          • For the amount of searching that Fossett got, from a state where he didn't live, and didn't pay taxes, I'm finding it hard to be sympathetic. If you or I got lost, we'd never rate a million dollar search effort.

            Privilege has its price.

            • by Toonol (1057698)
              Right. I would support billing the widow for costs that were above and beyond the normal costs associated with search and rescue. If they wouldn't spend more than $50,000 searching for a peon like you or me, have the difference be considered an upgrade to the 'deluxe rescue package.'
            • by wsanders (114993)
              That's not true in my County, I have friends in the County SAR service, and I'm a ham radio volunteer who supports them from time to time. They will bust their ass to find you. And so will every police officer and firefighter everywhere. Even if there aren't any donuts.

              The donuts are appreciated, however. Although I wish there wasn't quite so much junk food at the command posts. But I digress.
        • My thought is, if they REALLY needed rescue, they'd call.

          Unfortunately, by the time that most people have figured out that they really do need rescuing and can't get out of this on their own, you'll almost certainly have lost a lot of time which could have been spent searching for or rescuing them.
          The chances of sucessfully rescuing someone go down as time goes on. If you KNOW that you're going to get a whacking great bill, possibly a bankrupting one, you're not going to call at the first inkling of trouble. Then, when you know that you REALLY need rescuing, yo

      • by danzona (779560)
        I don't think you are too far off the mark on this.

        According to Wikipedia (which is always right) they found 8 previously unknown (but non Fossett) crash sites while they were looking for him. It seems like they don't look very hard if they guy isn't rich.
    • by fm6 (162816)
      Why not? You do something risky, why should the rest of us be on the hook for your rescue costs? Which occur whether the rescue succeeds or not. As TFA says, the state is short of cash. If they don't ask Mrs. Fossett for the money, it comes out of state programs or taxes. Considering the fact that the sum in question is a small percentage of the estate, and a fraction of what Fossett spent on any one of his many expensive stunts, I call this an ethical no-brainer.
      • Risk is a relative thing. Steve flying a light aircraft is like you or me going for a drive to the supermarket.
        • by fm6 (162816)
          What's your point? Supermarket trips very rarely result in million-dollar search efforts.
        • Funny you should say that. Last time I got lost on the way to the market for some cheese and broccoli, the city launched a $50,000 search effort.
        • Just like going to the supermarket you carry personal injury insurance. If the fire dept, ambulance, etc bills you, generally the car insurance covers it. They have the same for boats and planes too. Being rich, I'd figure he has insurance to cover just this situation, the widow just needs to pass this on to the lawyers to handle.
    • by Hatta (162192)
      This is a real douchebag move. I remember when Fossett disappeared, the search and rescue team was telling everyone that Fossett wasn't getting special treatment, that anyone lost in the desert would get the same treatment.

      But a $600000 bill? Would just anyone lost in the desert get a bill, or is it because the widow can afford it? If Fossett wasn't getting treated differently during the search, he shouldn't be treated differently now.
      • by Itninja (937614)
        I think that same bill would have gone to any other family too. But most municipalities have a hardship clause on such things. If they have to rescue from a raging river during a flash flood, you will probably get a bill for several thousands bucks, but won't have to pay it if you can sign an affidavit saying it would be an extreme hardship on your family. In this case, accepting that affidavit would constitute special treatment since there is no reasonable way to contend that this amount is much of a hards
      • the search and rescue team was telling everyone that Fossett wasn't getting special treatment, that anyone lost in the desert would get the same treatment.
        And I think we all know how factual that statement is.
      • by Toonol (1057698)
        the search and rescue team was telling everyone that Fossett wasn't getting special treatment, that anyone lost in the desert would get the same treatment.

        Well, they evidently lied. Wait, let me rephrase that: They were obviously lying.
    • Here, anyways, the state picks up the bill for good-faith search efforts.

      Bad faith is like the woman a few years back who got drunk on a boat less than a mile away from the city and sent out a drunken m'aidez call. She had to pick up the ( hefty ) SaR bill on top of the normal penalties
  • Budget smudget (Score:2, Interesting)

    by drquoz (1199407)
    This is just plain awful. I'm sure she's going through enough without this added on top of everything. Shouldn't be charging anybody, especially the widow.
    • by daveywest (937112)
      I live in Nevada, so I think my opinion ought to count for something.

      Not to be heartless, but the guy was known for adventuring -- or in other words -- endangering his own life for thrills. He flaunted standard safety protocols for entertainment, and lost his life for it.

      And lets not forget he had the financial resources to undertake these adventures.

      Even in death, he should pay to clean up the mess he left.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Arcane_Rhino (769339)
        While I think you have some legitimate points, lets not forget that, unless the state contracted outside of its normal search and rescue crews, the resources to search for the guy were already functioning and operational.

        I would be curious to see how much additional expense was really accrued. The fact that the money to pay for the operation (fuel, wear and tear on equipment, salaries, etc) came from the "Search and Rescue" budget (I do not really know their specific accounting practices) rather than the

    • by Forbman (794277)
      Well, Saddam Hussein billed executionee's families for bullets used to put them down...
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by R2.0 (532027)
      You are reacting to the flame-y headline. It should have read that Fosset's ESTATE would be billed. The guy had a metric fuckton of money - it's not like she's some woebegone character handling her husbands affairs alone.
    • by agm (467017)
      Somebody has to be billed because search and rescue isn't free. So you either bill the people responsible (the missing man in this case) or the taxpayer. I know which sounds more just to me - and billing the taxpayer for this is not, in any way, ethical.
  • by tamuct01 (726718) on Thursday May 01, 2008 @05:20PM (#23268286) Homepage
    ...if this was some wild goosechase. I mean that if you fraudulently sent the Police, etc. looking for someone, then you should be billed for it. But if it was a legitimate missing persons/accident, etc. as it appears to be in Fossett's case, then the next of kin should not be billed for the expense.
    • then the next of kin should not be billed for the expense.

      They were already billed ... that is, if they paid their taxes. This just sounds like the Governor wants to set a precedent that rich people can be billed extra for such services. Now, that's wrong if the woman wasn't told in advance that she'd be fronting the expense of the search. Maybe in that case she'd have forgone having the State search for her husband, and mounted a private effort of her own. It's ridiculous that she can be upcharged after
  • It just seems ridiculous to be billed for a matter you had no control over. Who makes the judgement call on how big of a search party and how long to look for? I have a hard time believing this is going to actually end up happening. Unless someone makes a habit of getting lost and repeatedly needing to be rescued, it should remain a taxpayer funded service.
    • by jd (1658)
      Dear customer,

      Your letter was lost in the mail. We searched and searched, but didn't find it. As a result, we're going to bill you for half a billion dollars. If we find the letter and discover any money in it, we'll keep that that as well. And if there's anything blackmailable in it...

    • by Xtravar (725372)
      FTFA:

      Fossett, 63, took off Sept. 3 from Barron Hilton's Flying M Ranch, south of Yerington, in a small plane on what was supposed to be a short pleasure flight.
      It was a freaking "pleasure flight." It's not like he was out picking up groceries and disappeared. I can most certainly sympathize with the POV that they should be billed for the search.
  • Widow of missing multimillionaire adventurer Steve Fosset IS NOW MISSING TOO

    State agencies are mounting a search party, in part because she's lost, but more importantly because she's lost and still owes them money.

    There are reports coming in that their children, legal heirs to property and debts, are also believed missing.
    • by Speare (84249)
      Maybe Steve Fossett is now dating Nina Reiser in the Bahamas.
    • IANAL but I thought only the -estate- could be held liable for debts (i.e, the bank can take your late grandfather's car but not bill you personally for the excess payments left over).
  • While I'm sure this woman has the money to cover this just from control of assets, I don't like the precedent it sets; what if this happens to someone that CAN'T foot the bill?

    Losing someone is strike one. Having to pay for the search is strike two. All of that happening AND being in debt for the rest of your life? That's not tolerable, in my opinion... and I have no faith in any government - national or local - to see through the red tape for people that can't necessarily handle the cost.
    • by Hatta (162192)
      They're only asking, because she can pay. If she couldn't pay, they wouldn't be asking.
    • I go hiking a lot in Colorado - so I purchased theColorado Outdoor Recreation Search and Rescue [state.co.us] card.

      In Colorado at least, if they have to come looking for you, you DO get billed for search costs. The card insures that search costs are paid by the fund, not you - and it costs only $12 every five years! They state on the page tself it's not insurance, but search costs can get expensive and this means a world of dfference for someone like you say who may not be well off.

      You can't just have search costs be
    • by amccaf1 (813772)

      While I'm sure this woman has the money to cover this just from control of assets, I don't like the precedent it sets; what if this happens to someone that CAN'T foot the bill?


      If they find you and you can't pay, then they put you back.
  • Don't have to be powerful.

    All planes and boats should have one.

    And every outdoor adventurer should use one too.

     
    • by Em Ellel (523581)

      Don't have to be powerful.

      All planes and boats should have one.

      And every outdoor adventurer should use one too.
      I believe Steve had a watch based personal locator beacon, although people were not sure if he had it on him.

      -Em

    • by wsanders (114993)
      Every FAA-registered aircraft does have one. Every boat venturing more than three (maybe six) miles offshore has to have one.

      They don't always work.

      AFAIK Fossett was piloting a Bellanca, which is heavy enough that it would have to be FAA-registered.
  • Due to the large amount of wealth that this family has access to, I don't see a problem here. If it was someone else without access to such large resources, I could understand this being a problem. They can definitely afford it. After all, what was the guy doing? Recreational flying.
    • by The Raven (30575)
      So, you're saying the bill should be proportional to the wealth? So it's ok to give you a $1000 bill if your wife goes missing? A $10,000 bill if the husband in the big house up the hill goes missing? A $1,000,000,000 bill if Bill G goes missing?

      Fuck that. The law should treat people equally, independent of their money. That's the idea we should be striving for at least. Fucking over a widow just because she has cash is really low.
  • Well, she can obviously afford it now, can't she?

    Seriously though, what kind of brain dead cop would do something like this? You can't ask for worse press than billing a widow for the loss of her husband!
  • Welcome to capitalism, baby.

    But seriously, if she pays the bill, she should also bill them (or sue for) an amount for services rendered; as I recall, numerous other crashes and oddities were uncovered in the search, despite not finding Fossett.
  • If people want to take extreme risks, they can do so at their own expense. They shouldn't expect the rest of us to foot the bill if their adventure doesn't go according to plan.

    Good for them for charging the estate, exactly correct.
    • by kwerle (39371)

      If people want to take extreme risks, they can do so at their own expense. They shouldn't expect the rest of us to foot the bill if their adventure doesn't go according to plan.

      Good for them for charging the estate, exactly correct.

      He was *flying a plane*. He was doing some surveying. He was not attempting anything exotic (to the best of our knowledge). For all we know, he was cruising steady at 10K feet, had a heart attack and died mid-air.

      If it'd been some poor crop duster who had died on the way to work, should they still charge the estate? If you think so, then so be it - anyone who wants to fly will then have to get "lost" insurance to cover this kind of thing, which will make it harder to fly, which means the crop duster wo

  • maybe she can get a refund?
  • Did she ask the state to search for her husband? If so, then a bill may be appropriate, otherwise "Thank you for the gift, Mr. Governor".
  • by fireman sam (662213) on Thursday May 01, 2008 @05:44PM (#23268586) Homepage Journal
    The US government has decided to send the $3Trillion bill to Iraq for the search and rescue of the weapons of mass destructions (WMDs) even though the lost WMDs were never located.
  • This is stupid.. unless she was told "we'll search, but you have to pay", BEFORE they searched.

    This was also a high profile media fiasco.. the average joe, would not have had such an extensive search done.. and if she is charged, it should be based upon the costs of previous efforts.. that they spent extra time "doing the job" is on them.

  • Just wow. I guess Nevada's governor has read one too many RIAA business howtos...
  • http://www.mercurynews.com/news/ci_9105166 [mercurynews.com]

    Firefighters are just glad your're OK, even if you are a gorked out dumbass.
  • see if they can get me my 40 cents from MTurk.
  • Isn't that called taxes?

    So if they are going to charge me directly for the use of state services, why am i still paying taxes?
  • for the publicity that the state benefited from fossett's adventures around the world. ingrateful suckers.

Often statistics are used as a drunken man uses lampposts -- for support rather than illumination.

Working...