Sightings of a missing man after a boating accident give his family hope.
In September of 1991, a disoriented, penniless, and obviously out of place young American man wandered into the Mexican village of Colonia Vicente Guerrero, 300 miles south of San Diego. He lingered for months, living on hand-outs and the charity of strangers. Many now believe the man was Gordon Collins, who had been missing for five months.
In April 1991, Gordon was vacationing with his girlfriend, Anastasia Seals, and another couple, near Santa Rosalia, a popular deep sea fishing port near the middle of the Baja Peninsula. Four days after they arrived, the group rented a boat at a local hotel. Gordon’s friend, Wayne Schwartz, had fished off the Baja coast many times. As the group left port, a fisherman on his way in warned them that a storm was brewing.
Several hours later, a fierce storm hit the area. Gordon and his friends never returned. The next day, a hotel employee discovered the bodies of Gordon’s girlfriend, Anastasia Seals, and Wayne Schwartz. But Gordon and Wayne’s wife, Arlean Burlington, were never found. Gordon father, John Collins, described what the searchers found:
For three days, the United States Coast Guard searched a 250-mile area, but found nothing. It seemed obvious that Gordon and Arlean had also perished.
In time, Gordon and Arlean’s parents were asked to sign death certificates. However, reports that Gordon was still alive had already begun to come in from Mexico. Some thought he might be suffering from amnesia.
When Gordon Collins’ parents traveled to the site of the accident, they found two Mexican fishermen who said they had seen a man matching Gordon’s description wander out of the ocean. He was wearing only shorts and was covered in cuts. They said they saw him trying to board a bus. John Collins recalls his reaction:
Around the same time, a man named Jose Peralta also sighted Gordon on a nearby beach.
John Collins tells of other confirmations:
Over the next three months, Gordon Collins was spotted at least fifty times in seven different locations, all in the area of La Paz and Cabo San Lucas, at the southern end of the Baja Peninsula. Gordon’s parents hired Bill Garcia, a private investigator, who alerted newspapers in Baja. After the articles ran, Garcia received several calls from a village 300 miles south of Tijuana. Raul Amador says he remembers Gordon vividly:
Bill Garcia believes the villagers:
When the man identified as Gordon was arrested for stealing food, the local sheriff brought in James Hatfield, an American living in the village, to translate. James said he was sure the man he met was Gordon Collins:
But Bill Garcia didn’t make it in time:
Over the next year, sporadic sightings of Gordon continued. The U.S. Consulate has officially reversed its position and no longer presumes that Gordon Collins is dead. John Collins holds onto hope that he may see his son again: