Insurers won't pay boat owner's claim in lost-at-sea case

Insurers have refused to pay the $85,000 policy that Nathan Carman (left) took out on his boat, the Chicken Pox, before it sank in September - killing his mother Linda, 54 (right)
  • Nathan Carman and his mother Linda, 54, went fishing on his boat the Chicken Pox in September 
  • The boat sank and Nathan - who has Asperger's - was found floating on a life preserver eight days later - his mother is presumed dead 
  • Insurers are refusing to pay his $85,000 policy, saying he made alterations to the boat hours before the trip that caused it to take on water
  • They also said he had three chances to signal the Coast Guard that the boat was sinking, but he didn't
  • Multiple law enforcement agencies are investigating whether Carman sank the boat purposefully to kill his mother  

Insurers say they will not cover the loss of a boat owned by an autistic man that sank off Rhode Island with his mother aboard.

Nathan Carman and his mother, 54-year-old Linda Carman went on a fishing trip on his boat the Chicken Pox in September. Nathan Carman was found alone in a life raft eight days later. His mother is presumed dead.

In papers filed last week in U.S. District Court in Rhode Island, the National Liability & Fire Insurance Co., and a marine insurer say Nathan Carman made 'incomplete, improper, and faulty repairs' to the vessel on the day before it sank, and that he knew the vessel was unsafe. 

Therefore the two companies say they will not be paying out his $85,000 policy.  

 The insurers say Carman made alterations to the boat hours before the fishing trip that caused it to take on water and sink 

The insurers say Carman made alterations to the boat hours before the fishing trip that caused it to take on water and sink 

Carman agreed to be desposed in December, in order to fight the companies for his insurance payment. During this talk, Carman said he believed the boat was safe.  His lawyer, Huber Santos, did not immediately return a call Monday.

The insurance companies aren't the only ones who find the fatal boat sinking suspicious. 

Multiple law enforcement agencies are investigating whether Carman purposefully sank the boat to kill his mother, and possibly collect her multi-million-dollar inheritance. 

The mother and son left South Kingstown, Rhode Island around 7am on September 18, and headed to a fishing spot known as Block Canyon. 

Investigators later discovered that Linda Carman did not want to go out to Block Canyon, and that it was further than the two had ever taken the boat before. 

 Law enforcement agencies are also investigating whether Nathan (right) possibly sank the boat on purpose to kill his mother (left) 

Law enforcement agencies are also investigating whether Nathan (right) possibly sank the boat on purpose to kill his mother (left) 

Once they arrived in the area, Carman testified that they began trolling for tuna for about four hours before realizing that the ship was flooded. 

Carman says he immediately 'turned off the boat and powered it down' but that by then the water was 'up to the battery boxes and only about three inches below deck'. 

It was during this moment of panic that Carman says he asked his mother to bring in the lines. He says she acknowledged the request, but that he never saw or spoke to her again. 

Presuming his mother dead, Carman grabbed a life preserver and some food and abandoned the sinking ship. 

He was found eight days later by a passing freighter about 100 miles south of Martha's Vineyard island. 

 Carman was also a person of interesting in the shooting death of his grandfather John Chakalos three years ago 

Carman was also a person of interesting in the shooting death of his grandfather John Chakalos three years ago 

 Chakalos' death came just weeks after his wife Rita (left) passed away from cancer. On his death, Chakalos left $42million to his four adult daughters, including Carman's mom 

Chakalos' death came just weeks after his wife Rita (left) passed away from cancer. On his death, Chakalos left $42million to his four adult daughters, including Carman's mom 

 Carman has said that he did not kill his grandfather, who he considered like a dad. He's pictured above with his late grandmother Rita 

Carman has said that he did not kill his grandfather, who he considered like a dad. He's pictured above with his late grandmother Rita 

Following the suspicious sinking, Carman's insurance providers hired a naval architect and a surveyor to analyze the facts of the case and give their opinion. 

Both found that Carman made alterations to the boat just hours before the trip that led to its unseaworthiness. 

Carman admitted to removing the boat's trim tabs, leaving four half-dollar size holes near the water line which he filled with an epoxy putty stick. He said he took the tabs out because he didn't think they did anything. 

The naval architect said that the repair of these holes was inadequate. The surveyor said that the alterations affected the boat's structural integrity. 

'Carman knew his boat was unseaworthy when it departed Ram Point Marina,' the filing alleges.

The insurance companies also say that Carman had three chances to activate the emergency beacon on the boat, which would have led the Coast Guard to his location, but he failed to do so. 

 After his grandfather’s death, Carman left Middletown and bought a 160-year-old, four-bedroom house in Vernon, Vermont, for $70,000. He has extensively remodeled the house himself, adding two stories, while sleeping every night in his truck, neighbors say

After his grandfather’s death, Carman left Middletown and bought a 160-year-old, four-bedroom house in Vernon, Vermont, for $70,000. He has extensively remodeled the house himself, adding two stories, while sleeping every night in his truck, neighbors say

 Nathan Carman's home in Vernon, Vermont, was searched by police after he was brought back to shore

Nathan Carman's home in Vernon, Vermont, was searched by police after he was brought back to shore

Recalling the sinking, the report says that Carman 'began moving safety and survival gear to the bow to prepare for the possibility of abandoning ship; however, despite entering the cabin three times you didn't make a distress call on your VHF radio or take the EPIRB from its cradle and activate it'. 

'The EPIRB was mounted in the cabin immediately above where the flares and other safety gear was kept,' the report said. 

The investigation into Linda Carman's disappearance is still ongoing. 

Investigators obtained search warrants for her son's car, cellphone and Vermont home. According to these court documents, investigators are looking into whether Carman was 'operating [a boat] so as to endanger, resulting in death'. 

Carman was also a person of interest in the shooting death of his grandfather, 87-year-old John Chaaklos, three years ago. 

Carman was the last person to see Chakalos alive, traveling to his house in Windsor, Connecticut on December 20, 2013 for dinner. Chakalos was found shot to death at the home the next day. 

Chakalos' death came just weeks after his wife Rita passed away from cancer. On his death, Chakalos left a $42million inheritance to his four daughters, including Carman's mother. 

Carman told the AP that he did not kill his grandfather, who he considered more like a dad. 

Carman has Asperger's syndrome, a higher-functioning form of autism.   

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By Mathias Dillion 01/31/2017 04:31:00
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