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.