Michael Boatwright, Swedish-speaking amnesia patient, lands in Sweden

August 21st, 2013 | by Kate McGinty | Comments
Michael Boatwright, who refers to himself as Johan Ek, is staying at Desert Regional Medical Center. (Jay Calderon/The Desert Sun)

Michael Boatwright, who refers to himself as Johan Ek, spoke to The Desert Sun while at Desert Regional Medical Center. (Jay Calderon/The Desert Sun)

Michael Boatwright — the U.S. Navy veteran who was found unconscious in a Palm Springs motel and awoke speaking only Swedish — landed in Sweden on Tuesday.

UPDATE: Riverside County paid for Michael Boatwright’s plane ticket

He was greeted by Ewa Espling, a Swedish woman he dated in the early 1980s, the woman told The Desert Sun.

“Yes, I did” greet him, Espling said. She has not responded to questions about whether Boatwright will stay with her.

She previously told The Desert Sun that Boatwright had asked her not to speak to the media: “I want the best for him. I do respect that,” she said.

PHOTOS: Boatwright in Sweden in the 1980s provided by Ewa Espling

Images from Sweden show her greeting Boatwright with a tight embrace after he stepped off a plane Tuesday from Los Angeles.

The Desert Sun broke the story on July 7 about the 61-year-old man, who was found found unconscious in a Motel 6 room on Palm Canyon Drive at noon on Feb. 28. He had with him a duffel bag of casual athletic clothes, a backpack, five tennis rackets, two cell phones, some cash, a set of old photos and four forms of identification that all identified him as Boatwright.

When Boatwright awoke at Desert Regional Medical Center, he insisted he had no memory of his past and that he had forgotten how to speak English. Boatwright spent the next five months at the hospital, which was felt it was unsafe to release a man with no memory, no home and no resources.

Boatwright eventually moved from the hospital to Roy’s Desert Resource Center, a homeless shelter in north Palm Springs. Boatwright could have stayed a Roys for up to four months, but he was only there for about two weeks. No one at the center spoke Swedish.

Aurora Wilson, director of community resources for Coachella Valley Association of Governments, which administers the facility, said Monday that Boatwright had expressed a desire to return to Sweden, but said there were no concrete plans to send him overseas. No date for his departure had been set, Wilson said. Boatwright got on a plane headed for Sweden either late Monday or early Tuesday.

“We were trying to find where Michael belongs, and his future,” Wilson said Wednesday. “And since he was at Roy’s, we have to respect the client’s right to privacy.”

The Coachella Valley Association of Governments has not always been so quiet about Boatwright. After he moved to Roy’s in early August, the association sent out a newsletter announcing that the shelter had taken in the amnesia patient, who had drawn worldwide interest.

Timeline of all our coverage:

July 7, 2013: The original story that detailed Boatwright’s story

VIDEO: Michael Boatwright speaks to The Desert Sun in Swedish

VIDEO: That video, but with the help of an English translator

July 7, 2013: RECAP: What we know about Michael Boatwright

July 15, 2013: The Desert Sun locates Boatwright’s sister in the U.S. and a former girlfriend in Sweden

July 21, 2013: Some question story as details emerge

July 23, 2013: Michael Boatwright pal hopes to jar amnesia patient’s memory

July 30, 2013: Amnesia story intrigues Swedish filmmakers

Aug. 6, 2013: See Michael Boatwright leave Palm Springs hospital

PHOTOS: Boatwright and the images he carried with him when he was found


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