HAVERHILL (CBS) -- A Haverhill mother and daughter are accused of falsely telling police that they saw a man throw a baby off a bridge and into the Merrimack River on Christmas Eve.
The hoax set off a massive response from authorities to the Comeau Bridge at about 7:30 p.m. on Thursday. A State Police helicopter and dive team helped local police and firefighters scour the scene.
"The helicopter was hovering over us with lights shining on the river," said Rachid Farhat, who lives in a nearby apartment building. "That's horrible on Christmas Eve to have people and resources wasted like that."
Police say the women reported that they saw and heard a man throw the baby off the bridge, but by 10 p.m., detectives determined that they made up the story.
Holly Fowler, 42, and Kristine Fowler, 23, are charged with misleading a police investigation and filing a false police report.
"It's definitely really twisted, especially with a mother and daughter," said Kevin Howley, who lives in the same apartment building.
"It's one of those reports you have to treat as serious unless you confirm it one way or the other," Haverhill Police Capt. Robert Pistone said in a statement. "As to why they did it, that's not perfectly clear yet."
The women are due in Haverhill District Court on Monday.
"I'm just glad it was a hoax," said Nicole Laponius, who witnessed the search efforts from her home. "I can't understand why that would ever happen. There are no words."
WBZ-TV's Ryan Kath contributed to this report.
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