Coast Guardsman gone three months investigated for drugs
by Audrey McAvoy, Associated Press
January 23, 2013 03:25 PM | 627 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
HONOLULU (AP) — A Coast Guardsman who disappeared more than three months ago and showed up at his home over the weekend was being investigated for illegal drug use, a Coast Guard spokesman said.

Petty Officer First Class Russell Matthews, 36, was being investigated for using marijuana, Coast Guard spokesman Chief Warrant Officer Gene Maestas told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. The offense could have resulted in the 15-year veteran being discharged from the military branch.

When Matthews returned home on Sunday, he was incoherent and taken to a hospital for observation, Honolulu police said Tuesday.

Maestas has said the Coast Guard doesn’t know where Matthews has been or what he’s been doing since his wife reported him missing on Oct. 9.

Coast Guard investigators confirmed his identity after he called his command from Castle Medical Center in the Honolulu suburb of Kailua, Maestas said. He’s now being evaluated at Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu.

Military investigators looking into his disappearance won’t question him until he’s released by doctors, Maestas said.

“We’ll try to find out why he disappeared and all the details surrounding his case,” he said.

Police found the guardsman’s car abandoned at Kaena Point, a remote area of Oahu, when Matthews was reported missing in October.

Crews from the Coast Guard, Navy, state, county lifeguards and Honolulu fire and police departments together searched more than 10,000 nautical square miles — on land and at sea — for Matthews. The search was called off on Dec. 13.

Honolulu Police Sgt. Kim Buffett of Crimestoppers said Matthews isn’t giving the police a statement because he’s in the hospital. Detectives have no reason to pursue the case because it’s not against the law to be missing, she said. The police case is closed now that Matthews has been found, she said.

Matthews, an aviation survival technician, has been assigned to Hawaii since 2007.

“This is not the norm for the Coast Guard. In my 28 year career in the Coast Guard, I have never come across a case like this,” Maestas said.

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