WINSLOW — A Waterville man was arrested Saturday afternoon after he told police two siblings had fallen into the Kennebec River and a 9-year-old girl was missing, then later allegedly admitted he made it up when the story didn’t hold up.

Jon Duffy, 32, a volunteer at the Winslow Family 4th of July Celebration, told police around 2 p.m. that two young siblings had fallen into the river and he’d helped the boy out, but a 9-year-old girl floated downstream, according to Winslow police Lt. Josh Veilleux.

“We took the reporting party back to where he said it happened and had him walk us through it, because it just wasn’t making sense,” Veilleux said.

Veilleux had Duffy re-enact how he had rescued the boy, and Duffy struggled to climb down the embankment near the Ticonic Bridge, Veilleux said.

“When he was walking down, he was making all these footprints that would have been there if someone had climbed down it already,” Veilleux said. “We started talking to him some more and he said, ‘Hey, I messed up.’ He wanted to be a hero.”

The report prompted a search of the river using search-and-rescue boats, personal watercraft and police officers checking up and down the riverbank. As word spread through nearby Fort Halifax Park, where the holiday celebration was taking place, a small crowd began to gather near the river.

Shortly after 3 p.m., the search was called off and Duffy was charged with filing a false public alarm or report, a class D misdemeanor. Duffy posted the $500 unsecured bail and has a Sept. 1 court date at Waterville District Court.

The Waterville Police Department, the Waterville Fire Department, the Winslow’s Police Department and Fire Department, Delta Ambulance, the Maine Warden Service and the Sidney Fire Department all responded to the report.

Jesse Scardina — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @jessescardina