A 22-year-old man who had been missing at sea with his mother for more than a week was found alone but in good condition Sunday – adrift far off the Massachusetts coast, two days after the Coast Guard had suspended the search for them.
Nathan Carman was found floating in an inflatable raft by a passing freighter about 100 nautical miles south of Martha’s Vineyard, Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd Class Nicole Groll said.
“He was found in a life raft with food and water,” she said.
Carman’s mother, Linda Carman, 54, was not with him when he was rescued, and her whereabouts are still unknown, the Coast Guard said, adding that the situation is under investigation.
Linda Carman, of Middletown, Connecticut, and her son, who lives in Vermont, set out for a fishing trip Sept. 17 from Ram’s Point Marina in Point Judith, Rhode Island, in a 32-foot center-console fishing boat called Chicken Pox, the Coast Guard said in a statement.
She told friends that she and her son – who reportedly has Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of higher-functioning autism – were going on an overnight fishing trip and would return early the next morning, according to the Hartford Courant.
“Linda and Nathan go out at least monthly,” Sharon Hartstein, a close friend of Linda Carman’s, told the newspaper, adding that the pair often set out late at night or in the early morning. “They like to fish.”
When the two did not return Sept. 18, the Coast Guard initiated a search involving multiple aircraft and cutters, which covered about 62,000 square nautical miles – “an area larger than the state of Georgia,” a news release noted. But the six-day operation was shut down Friday after “exhausting all search efforts.”
Nathan Carman told the Coast Guard that the aluminum fishing boat had taken on water Sept. 18 and sunk near Block Canyon off the coast of New York.
“He got into the life raft and tried to find his mom,” Groll, the Coast Guard petty officer, said. “He couldn’t find him mom.”
By Sunday afternoon, Nathan Carman had been found in his life raft; he is expected to arrive in port Tuesday, Groll said.
The Coast Guard will not continue its search for his mother, she said.
“It’s always difficult when we suspend a search,” Groll said. But because Linda Carman did not have food or water, was not protected from the elements and did not have a life raft of her own, Groll said, the chances of finding her alive are “minimal.”
In 2011, Nathan Carman, who was 17 at the time, wandered away from his home in Middletown, and was spotted in New Haven – prompting a multi-state search.
“I’ve been out on the roads, if you will, looking all over,” his father, Clark Carman, told the Connecticut Post at the time, adding: “It’s tough, even though he’s not a little toddler, he is still my son.”
Authorities had warned anyone who might see Nathan to “calmly talk with him but don’t touch him because that will cause him to shut down,” according to the newspaper. He was found in Virginia several days later.
(c) 2016, The Washington Post · Lindsey Bever