Michael Thomas Boatwright and his ‘Bourne Identity’


Michael Thomas BoatwrightWhen Michael Thomas Boatwright, 61, awoke at Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs in February, he experienced his own form of the ‘Bourne Identity.’

Boatwright was found unconscious in a Motel 6 in Palm Springs, California.  His ID said his name was Michael Thomas Boatwright, and he was from Florida.  But when he awoke, he identified himself as Johan Ek, and he spoke only Swedish.

Authorities believe he may have been in Palm Springs attending a tennis tournament.  In his room they found a duffle bag with exercise clothes, a backpack, and five tennis rackets.  They also discovered four forms of identification, including a California ID card, a passport, a veteran’s ID card, and a social security card, all of which identified him as Michael Thomas Boatwright.

After examining Boatwright, in March doctors diagnosed him with Transient Global Amnesia, which is caused by physical or mental trauma, and can last for months.

Boatwright still does not recognize his name, or remember being in the Navy, or why he was in Palm Springs.  He has accepted what the doctors have told him, but continues to be unfamiliar with that person.

The rare mental disorder is characterized by memory loss, “sudden and unplanned travel,” and possible adoption of a new identity, according to the Desert Sun.

Doctors say he is in good physical health, but doesn’t have any memory about his past, including his two ex-wives, or his son.

Complicating the situation is that Boatwright has access to less than $200, and doesn’t know how to use public transportation, exchange money, or seek temporary shelter.  And he has no insurance.

Lisa Hunt-Vasquez was assigned as his social worker.  Because he had a veteran’s ID, she contacted the military.  She discovered that he had been in the Navy from 1971-1973, serving as an aviation mechanic.

She discovered that he taught at a TRP English school in China until May 2012.  He had written an essay for the site, and said he taught English in Japan for 10 years, had been married, and had a son.  The Chinese school said that when he began teaching there, he was already divorced from his Japanese wife.

He left China in May because his visa had expired, and came to California.

Boatwright told CNN that he has no memory before February 28th.  Everything he knows came from Hunt-Vasquez, or websites.  He says he learned that he operated a consulting company by the name of Kultur Konsult Nykoping, but doesn’t know what he did there.  He read that he had been a good tennis player, and was once interviewed by the Tennis Channel.

There is a Swedish connection.  After the story was released, several Swedes said they remembered him from the 1980’s.

Late Monday night the Desert Sun discovered a sister who lives in Louisiana. “I haven’t talked to him in years. He just disappeared,” Michelle Brewer told the paper.

Boatwright continues to be depressed in the hospital.  Hunt-Vasquez suggested he might find solace in the Swedish-American community.

“They said he was getting depressed because he wasn’t able to communicate,” said Linda Kosvic, chairman of the Vasa Order of America chapter in San Jacinto, California. “We’ve been trying to provide him support and make him feel more comfortable.”

They have been visiting him in the hospital.  The hospital would like to discharge him, but Boatwright continues to live his own ‘Bourne Identity,’ and doesn’t know where home is.

Alfred James reporting


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