Sep 26, 2016 3:55 PM

Rescued boater spent week adrift on raft; mom presumed dead

The Associated Press

BOSTON (AP) — A Vermont man whose boat sank spent seven days adrift on an inflatable life raft before he was rescued off the coast of Massachusetts by a passing freighter, but his still-missing mother was presumed dead, the Coast Guard said Monday.

The Coast Guard had suspended its search Friday for Linda Carman, 54, and her 22-year-old son, Nathan Carman. The mother and son disappeared Sept. 18 after leaving a Rhode Island marina to go on a fishing trip in Nathan Carman's 31-foot aluminum boat named the Chicken Pox.

Nathan Carman was found Sunday by a freighter about 100 nautical miles south of Martha's Vineyard, the Coast Guard said. He was listed in good condition.

Aboard the freighter, he spoke by phone to a Coast Guard command center in Boston. Petty Officer 3rd Class Nicole Groll, a Coast Guard spokeswoman, said Nathan Carman told the Coast Guard that when the boat started to sink, it went down quickly.

"He looked for his mother and did not see her. He had some food and water, and he jumped into the life raft, and that was it," Groll told The Associated Press.

Groll said the Coast Guard did not receive a distress call when the boat began taking on water. She said it is unclear whether the boat was equipped with a radio, but said recreational boaters are urged to carry a radio and a waterproof case.

The freighter was expected to arrive in Boston on Tuesday morning.

"When Nathan comes into port, he'll be met by Coast Guard officials, and they'll get a better understanding of what happened in this particular case and how to better prevent something like this from happening in the future," Groll said.

Sharon Hartstein, a friend of Linda Carman's, said she had a wide range of emotions when she heard Sunday that Nathan had been found alive.

"I was ecstatic, and then I found out Linda wasn't with him, and I was terrified," Harstein said Monday.

The Coast Guard said they have no plans to reopen the search for Linda Carman, of Middletown, Connecticut. Groll said Monday that so much time has gone by that it is now "beyond the survivability window" to continue searching for her.

Nathan Carman grew up in Connecticut but has lived in Vernon, Vermont, in recent years.

He was also the subject of a search in 2011, when he was a 17-year-old living with his mother in Connecticut.

At the time, Nathan's parents said he vanished after he became distraught over the death of his horse. After a widespread search, he was found in Sussex County, Virginia. Police said he took a bus to Virginia and bought a scooter he had planned to ride to Florida.

He has Asperger's syndrome, a milder form of autism, according to authorities who searched for him in 2011.

The Carman family was also struck by tragedy in 2013 when Linda Carman's 87-year-old father — John Chakalos, of Windsor, Connecticut — was found dead in his home of a gunshot wound to the head. The death was ruled a homicide. No arrest has been made.

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