HONOLULU (AP) – A veteran rescue swimmer has been charged with desertion after he went missing for three months and triggered a massive search, the Coast Guard said Wednesday.
Petty Officer 1st Class Russell Matthews faces three other charges including being absent without leave, wrongful use and possession of a controlled substance, and causing the Coast Guard to conduct a search when there was no need, said Chief Warrant Officer Gene Maestas, a Coast Guard spokesman.
An Article 32 hearing _ the military equivalent of a grand jury hearing _ will be held to determine if there’s enough evidence for Matthews to be tried in a court-martial.
Matthews was in the process of being discharged from the Coast Guard for illegal use of marijuana when he disappeared in October. The 36-year-old showed up at his home in mid-January.
Police said Matthews was incoherent when he was found, and he taken to a hospital for observation. The Coast Guard later took him into custody and had him confined at a Navy brig while they investigated why he left without authorization.
Police had found Matthews’ car abandoned at Kaena Point, a remote area of Oahu next to the ocean, after his wife reported him missing. Police at the time described him as emotionally distraught, and said his friends and family were concerned for his welfare.
Hawaii News Now reported that Matthews lost four colleagues in a 2008 helicopter crash. The following year, his first wife was critically hurt when she was hit head-on by a car while riding her bike. She died a couple of years later, according to public records.
“In Petty Officer Matthews’ case, we certainly empathize with his situation, but we certainly do not condone his actions,” Maestas said.
Search and rescue crews scoured more than 10,000 square miles looking for Matthews. Honolulu firefighters sent a helicopter and rescue teams to searches the rugged coastline and sand dunes near Kaena Point.
Maestas couldn’t discuss what Matthews was doing while he was missing, saying that’s part of the investigation.
Maestas said he didn’t know if Matthews has an attorney. He is entitled to representation by a lawyer from the Navy’s judge advocate general corps if he wishes.
Matthews joined the Coast Guard in 1997. He’s been stationed at Air Station Barbers Point on Oahu for five years.
The decision to charge Matthews was made by Capt. Timothy Gilbride, the station’s commanding officer.
(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
- The Pac-12 football season nears kickoff
- Tips to get ready for a pain-free golf season
- Protect your family with these 7 home security features
- How to train like an Olympic swimmer
- 2016 Olympics: A guide to must-see TV events
- The bride's guide to feeling your best on your wedding day
- Deciding when you need knee surgery
- Celebrating Fourth of July is much cooler in these AZ towns
- Top ten road trip bathrooms in America
- Six things causing a pain in your neck
- 5 things to make your summer move easier
- Three elements of a strong timeshare exit guarantee
- Stretches and exercises for carpal tunnel syndrome
- The best Major League ballparks have their own personality
- Comparing the best regular seasons: The '96 Bulls and '16 Warriors
- 3 Arizona road trips and the vehicles to get you there
- Colon cancer is preventable. Check these signs and symptoms to stay healthy.
- 6 of the biggest skin cancer myths
- Affordable small home makeover ideas
- Locals helping locals: 6 success stories you need to know about
- Sunscreen facts that could save your life
- 6 energy saving hacks for your home
- 5 tips for choosing a company to end your timeshare
- Overlooked water tips to save you money
- 5 of the most adored gentlemen in professional sports today
- The real danger of sitting at your desk
- Most surprising NBA playoff performances of the last 40 years
- 11 classic baseball movies you must see again
- Finally getting rid of fat: 3 methods that actually work
- 4 reasons cancer survivors should focus on food