Radio host handcuffed after hoax
By Erica Bajer, QMI Agency
ST. CATHARINES, Ont. It was meant as a playful radio prank.
But local morning show hosts Jason Barr and Chris Biggs found out Wednesday morning not everyone shares their sense of humour including the Niagara Regional Police Service.
"We weren't aware we were doing anything wrong," Barr said.
Barr and contestants vying for a chance to win a Ford F150 pickup truck donned ski masks and took to the streets of St. Catharines to lure people into the vehicle.
Contestants were only allowed to say, "Excuse me, get in the truck" to the people they approached, Barr said.
The goal was to get as many people as possible to sit in the truck for 97 seconds.
Just over two hours into the bit, the truck, which was covered in radio station decals, was pulled over by police.
Barr and his posse were handcuffed as police investigated what they were up to.
Const. Sal Basilone said police received a few reports about masked people in a truck making "ill advised" attempts to get people into the vehicle.
"They were probably scaring people," he said. "I don't think it's funny and the police service doesn't think it's funny."
He said the matter was discussed with the people in the truck and they agreed to stop what they were doing. No charges were laid.
Pat Legault, of Welland, didn't see the humour in the hoax when she was approached.
In fact, it terrified her.
The 52-year-old said she was waiting to cross the street when the truck pulled up shortly after 9 a.m. She didn't pay much attention, thinking the vehicle was going to park at the vacant spot in front of her.
It didn't and one of the occupants spoke to her.
"It registered in my head, he said, 'Get in the truck,'" she said. "I looked over and they were wearing ski masks."
Legault's voice shook with emotion as she talked about all the worst-case scenarios that went through her head at that moment.
"I started to panic. I started to think, 'What do I do now?'" she said. "I was thinking of escape."
She said without another word the vehicle drove away.
Legault called police and didn't find out until after 2 p.m. that it had been a prank.
Barr was surprised to hear the gag had such an impact on someone.
"I'm sorry she feels that way," he said. "It was certainly not our intention to scare anyone."
He said the truck was decked out with radio station decals so he thought people would realize it was a joke.
He said while the bit got laughs from most of the people they approached -- 18 people sat in the truck -- it probably wasn't the best idea.
However, he didn't go so far as to say he regretted the prank.
"Was it fun? Yeah. Would we do it again? Not likely," he said.
Information: Go to the new place.