Coast Guard: What Happened to Missing Boater?

After an Apopka man went missing last year only to resurface about a month later uninjured and with no explanation, the U.S. Coast Guard still has little insight into his "mysterious" disappearance.

Coast Guard officials held a news briefing Wednesday in New Smyrna Beach in hopes of getting tips from the public that would explain what happened to Bernardo Enrique Rubio Hernandez from Feb. 7, 2013 to March 4.

Officials have talked to Hernandez. What he said isn't being released but officials said it didn't make sense.

After spending $1.3 million in a four-day search last February, Coast Guard officials still have more questions than answers surrounding Hernandez's disappearance.

"The Coast Guard expended a significant amount of resources -- money in particular -- looking for Mr. Hernandez and we don't have a good explanation of what transpired during that time frame," said Special Agent Randy Thompson with the Coast Guard Investigative Service.

"We are looking for the public's assistance. It's possible that someone out there may have some information that would give us a better idea where he might have been during those approximately 27 days so we can bring this investigation to a successful conclusion."

A relative reported Hernandez missing about 12:05 a.m. Feb. 7, 2013 after he was late coming home from a boating trip.

The relative said Hernandez launched from a boat ramp in his skiff Feb. 6 and was expected to return at sunset. His vehicle and a boat trailer were found quickly.

Rescuers searched nearly 13,000 square miles -- an area roughly the size of the state of Maryland -- before finally giving up about 8:30 p.m. Feb. 10.

Hernandez's boat was never found and investigators thought there was no reason to believe that he could have survived in that area in that amount of time, said Coast Guard spokeswoman Lauren Jorgensen.

But then on March 4, Hernandez resurfaced in Avon Park, a city in Highlands County -- more than 130 miles away from where rescuers thought he went missing, New Smyrna Beach police announced.

Police said Hernandez called his family from Avon Park. He went back home to Apopka the same day then went to police headquarters to tell authorities he was safe.

Hernandez has not spoken to the media about what happened while he was missing or how he ended up in Avon Park. But police say he did provide a statement to detectives. That statement, however, was not enough to satisfy investigators and has not been made public.

There isn't enough available information to say if any charges will be filed against Hernandez, but if investigators get information to suggest that Hernandez broke the law, he could face prosecution and may have to repay some of the money spent on his search, Thompson said.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Coast Guard Investigative Service office in Jacksonville at 904-256-5931.

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