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Coast Guardsman released from hospital, taken into custody

By Audrey McAvoy

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 09:27 a.m. HST, Jan 24, 2013

A Coast Guard rescue swimmer is being held at a Navy-run facility in Pearl Harbor while the military service investigates his three-month disappearance as it prepared to discharge him for illegally using marijuana.

The Coast Guard on Wednesday launched a weeklong review of Petty Officer 1st Class Russell Matthews’ case, spokesman Chief Warrant Officer Gene Maestas said. 

He hasn’t been arrested. But his commanding officer, Capt. Timothy Gilbride, the commander of Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point, ordered Matthews confined because of his unauthorized absence and the circumstances surrounding his disappearance make it possible he could take off again, Maestas said. 

Matthews showed up at his home over the weekend, more than three months after his wife reported him missing and government agencies launched an extensive search for him both on land and at sea. 

Honolulu police said Matthews returned home Sunday, but he was incoherent and taken to a hospital for observation. He later called his command.

Tripler Army Medical Center released Matthews on Tuesday night.

When the 36-year-old vanished in October, he was in the process of being discharged from the Coast Guard for illegal use of marijuana, Maestas said.

Maestas said he doesn’t know where Matthews has been or what he’s been doing but that would come out in the investigation.

“We want to know, too,” he said.

Matthews is a rescue swimmer with 15 years of experience in the Coast Guard. He’s been stationed at Air Station Barbers Point on Oahu for five years.

In October, police found the guardsman’s car abandoned at Kaena Point, a remote area of Oahu next to the ocean. At the time, police described him as being emotionally distraught and said his friends and family were concerned for his welfare.

Matthews’ first wife was in a critical accident in 2009, and committed suicide in 2011, according to local news reports. 

Search and rescue crews scoured more than 10,000 square miles looking for Matthews. Honolulu firefighters sent a helicopter and rescue teams to conduct aerial and ground searches of the rugged coastline and sand dunes near Kaena Point. 

“We wanted to make sure he wasn’t hurt in some area inshore,” Honolulu Fire Department spokesman Capt. Terry Seelig said.

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allie wrote:
Hope he gets the help he needs. There is a lot of mental illness out there
on January 23,2013 | 11:36AM
Skyler wrote:
It's not mental illness when you smoke ice or do hard drugs. Or drink too much, etc. It's escapism and addiction. Still, i hope he does get help. What a sad situation for he & his family.
on January 23,2013 | 12:05PM
gounreal wrote:
Last I read, he was under investigation for marijuana use...not ice. He had been missing for 3 months... I would imagine that because he was missing, his financial accounts would be frozen or at least have been monitored. So where do u propose he was getting funding for his ice smoking, other hard drugs or alcohol? Of course you could be right, but it's starting to become annoying how many people jump to conclusions about the reason for someones behavior must be ice. This man is in the armed forces...the percentage of use amongst active duty military personnel is extremely low in relation to use by civillians. And yes, there most definitely is a problem with ice here...where there is supply there is demand. Stop blaming the users though & start looking at those who allow supply to come in. Hawaii only has TWO ways of entry...if our government was really engaged in "The War on Drugs" this is one of the easiest places they could shut it down.
on January 23,2013 | 02:49PM
koki wrote:
Stop blaming the users? Last time I checked taking illicit drugs was a personal choice. I don't see it getting crammed down their throats. They make a conscious decision to use illicit drugs therefor contributing to the problem. Illicit drugs are produced here and others that are not will get into the state no matter what steps the state takes to stop it. Stop defending the users. They are the one's that are committing the majority of our property crimes in order to feed their habit.
on January 23,2013 | 05:08PM
Anonymous wrote:
how about repaying the taxpayers for the 10's of thousands of $$ spent on his search!
on January 23,2013 | 12:08PM
Warrior_Fan wrote:
Amen Koki
on January 24,2013 | 04:47AM
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