Coast Guardsman Charged After Odd Disappearance

Rescue swimmer Russell Matthews had been presumed dead
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 11, 2013 1:24 PM CDT
Coast Guardsman Charged After Odd Disappearance
This undated photo provided by the U.S. Coast Guard shows Petty Officer 1st Class Russell Matthews.   (AP Photo/U.S. Coast Guard, File)

Veteran rescue swimmer Russell Matthews has been charged with deserting the Coast Guard, in the aftermath of a strange disappearance in which he was temporarily presumed dead. The 36-year-old was already in the process of being discharged from the Guard for illegally using marijuana when he disappeared in October, the AP reports. His wife reported him missing, and search crews scoured a 10,000 square-mile area for him, finding only his car, which was abandoned near the ocean in a remote part of Oahu.

Eventually Matthews was presumed dead, according to the Daily Mail until he turned up at his home in January, babbling incoherently. He was taken to a hospital, and then into custody. "We certainly empathize with his situation but we certainly do not condone his actions," a Coast Guard spokesman said. In other deserter news, a 42-year-old South Carolina man was arrested Tuesday after the FBI alerted local authorities that he'd been wanted for desertion by the Army since 2001, Fox Carolina reports. Joseph Champion disappeared while training to be a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear specialist. Among other things, he might lose his job as a mechanic in the Spartanburg County maintenance shop. (More Russell Matthews stories.)

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