Man Found Safe Days After Disappearing with Mom on Fishing Trip Says, 'I Know I Wasn't Responsible'
Nathan Carman also told the Associated Press he had nothing to do with the 2013 slaying of his grandfather, for which he was reportedly once a suspect
Officials say the woman is likely dead and have launched an investigation into the incident, according to multiple reports.
“I know I wasn’t responsible for the boat sinking. I know that I wasn’t responsible for anything that resulted from the boat sinking. I know I wasn’t responsible for my mom’s death,” 22-year-old Nathan Carman told ABC News.
U.S. Coast Guard officials launched a search for Carman and his 52-year-old mother, Linda Carman, after they failed to return home from a fishing trip in the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of Rhode Island, on Sept. 18.
Carman was found drifting on a life raft a week later – but his mother’s whereabouts remain unknown, and authorities believe she could not still be alive.
Soon after Carman was found safe, police reportedly searched his Vermont home, seizing several items.
Although he has not been charged with any crime, Carman told the Associated Press that the suspicion surrounding his missing mother only adds on to his grief: “What happened on the boat was a terrible tragedy that I am still trying to process and that I am still trying to come to terms with,” he said.
“I don’t know what to make of people being suspicious,” he said. “I have enough to deal with.”
A search warrant noted that Carman is under investigation for reckless endangerment, with police suspecting that he took his mother out on the boat even though it needed mechanical repairs, according to ABC News. Police also suspect he took Linda to a “different location than what were his mother’s intentions and understanding.”
The warrant’s supporting affidavit alleges “the investigation revealed that Nathan’s boat was in need of mechanical repair and that Nathan had been conducting a portion of these repairs upon his own volition which could have potentially rendered his boat unsafe,” according to ABC News.
Police were looking for evidence of the planned fishing trip to support a charge of “operating so as to endanger, resulting in death,” according to the Hartford Courant. Authorities sought information about the trip’s planned route and destination and evidence of the boat repairs.
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How the Boat Sank
Carman said he was in the front of the 32-foot aluminum fishing boat and his mother was in the cockpit when it began to sink. He told the Coast Guard that almost immediately before, he heard a “funny noise in the engine compartment.”
“The whole time, from when I saw water in the boat to when the boat sank, was probably three to five minutes,” he told ABC News. “I did not see or hear my mom.”
Carman told the AP that when he no longer saw his mother, he swam to the boat’s life raft and desperately called out for her for hours.
“I was yelling, ‘Mom! Mom!’ ” he said. “I loved my mother, and my mother loved me.”
“I feel like I was responsible for my mom and I being out there and in the situation,” Carman told ABC News. “If I hadn’t asked my mom to go fishing with me that weekend, she would still be alive with me today.”
The boating investigation and Carman’s statements come as reports surfaced that he was once a suspect in the unsolved 2013 slaying of his grandfather John Chakalos.
His estate was worth more than $42 million – and he left it to his four daughters, including Carman’s mother, according to the AP.
But Carman told the AP that he had nothing to do with Chakalos’ death either. PEOPLE was not immediately able to reach him or investigating officials in the boating incident for comment.
“My grandfather was like a father to me, and I was like a son to him,” Carman told the AP. “He was the closest person in the world to me, and I loved him and he loved me, and I had absolutely nothing to do with his death.”
Carman’s father agreed, telling the Courant, “He was a suspect because he was the last one to see my father-in-law alive. The kid was so devoted to him. There were only two people in his life, his mother and his grandfather. There was no motive. There was nothing to gain with John dying, he had everything to lose.”