I-Team: Coast Guard questions boater's story

Courtesy West Island Weather Station/ML Baron

Fifty-seven-year-old Gary Alves, of Freetown, was considered missing for 12 hours last week when his small, unmanned sailboat suddenly washed ashore on West Island Town Beach in Fairhaven, at about 5:30 p.m. Friday.

Police and Coast Guard rescuers searched all night for the New Bedford chiropractor, and he was found early Saturday morning in a marshy area walking along West Island.{} He told investigators that he was knocked unconscious.

Sgt. Kevin Kobza said police found a mountain bike chained to a utility pole on Sconticut Neck Road on Monday. In the brush a short distance away, a backpack was found with some items, including a toothbrush, a shirt, an iPhone charger and eyeglasses with a receipt in Alves' name, according to police.

The NBC 10 I-Team has learned that Fairhaven police have turned their investigation over to Coast Guard investigators. Sources told the I-Team that investigators are questioning Alves' story.

Chief Petty Officer Jeff Hall said the Coast Guard Investigative Service has questioned Alves, but not made any decision on whether charges would be filed against him.

This was an expensive search for rescuers, about 12 hours by land and sea. Officials said the search could cost between $100,000 and $200,000.