Connecticut boater who spent week on raft rescued; mom presumed dead

Monday, September 26, 2016

BOSTON -- A Vermont man whose fishing 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 mother remained missing and was presumed dead, the Coast Guard said Monday.

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

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

He spoke by phone to the Coast Guard's First District command center in Boston after he was picked up by the freighter. 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.

The freighter is 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, of Vernon, Vermont, 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 went missing 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 Hartford Courant reports that the Carman family was also struck by tragedy in 2013 when Linda Carman's father - John Chakalo, 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.

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