Doctors in Florida are looking into the case of a Navy veteran who woke up speaking only Swedish after being found unconscious in a Southern California motel.
Michael Boatwright, 61, was found unconscious in February in a Motel 6 hotel room in Palm Springs, Calif., the Desert Sun reported. After being discovered, police transferred Boatwright to a local hospital, where he woke up. Upon awakening, he reportedly began calling himself “Johan Ek” and started speaking Swedish.
Officials at Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs believe that Boatwright may have been attending a nearby tennis tournament, the Associated Press reports. He was found with a bag full of exercise clothing, a backpack and tennis rackets. He was also in possession of several forms of identification — a California I.D. card, a Social Security Card, a veteran’s medical card and passport — each of which confirmed that his name was Michael Thomas Boatwright, AP reports.
Doctors reportedly diagnosed Boatwright with a condition called Transient Global Amnesia, a disorder triggered by emotional or physical trauma, AP reports. The Desert Sun notes that the condition can cause memory loss, unplanned travel, and, potentially, the adoption of new identity — and can last for several months.
Boatwright, who believes that his name is Johan Ek, reportedly can’t remember how to speak English, use money, take public transportation or find temporary housing, AP reports. In addition, Boatwright has no memory of his son or two ex-wives. "Sometimes it makes me really sad and sometimes it just makes me furious about the whole situation and the fact that I don't know anybody, I don't recognize anybody," Boatwright told the Desert Sun.
While Boatwright’s connection with Sweden remains unclear, the Desert Sun reports that he's believed to have first visited the country in the 1980s. The newspaper reports that Internet users in Sweden claim to recognize Boatwright as someone who had moved from America to Sweden, though it didn’t address how or when he learned to speak Swedish.
Although authorities initially struggled to find Boatwright’s family members, his sister, Michelle Brewer, was recently found in Louisiana, the Desert Sun reports. However, Brewer says that she hasn’t spoken to Boatwright in years. "He's always been just a wanderer. Then he'd come back when he needed some money or something from somebody. Then he'd take off again," Brewer told the Desert Sun.