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Missing New York swimmer spotted in South Carolina, police say

A man reported missing in waters off Long Island is believed to be alive and well, and was en route back to New York after apparently spending some time in Florida, police said Thursday.

"He's not drowned and dead," New York State Park Police Capt. Bruce Marx said at a briefing.

Raymond Roth, 47, of Massapequa, was reported missing Saturday after his son told authorities the two had gone to Jones Beach and that his father went swimming but never returned. Police marine units, helicopters and officers searched for several days with no results.

On Wednesday night, a relative of Roth's contacted police and reported that he was somewhere in Florida, Marx said.

Early Thursday morning, Roth was stopped going 90 mph on a South Carolina highway and issued a speeding ticket. The officer who issued the ticket then observed that Roth was listed in a national registry of missing persons; Roth said he was returning to New York and the officer let him proceed north. Marx noted that there was no legal requirement for authorities to detain Roth.

It was not clear exactly what transpired on Saturday when Roth disappeared, nor whether criminal charges will be filed. A spokesman for Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice declined to comment. Marx said any decision on charges would have to await further investigation. He estimated that the search effort cost "tens of thousands" of dollars.

State park police got Roth's cellphone number from a relative and had several telephone conversations with him Thursday. Authorities say Roth told them he was en route back to Long Island and could arrive later in the day, although Marx said there was no way to know if that's true. Marx said it was unclear if Roth would contact police when he returns to New York.

No one answered the door at Roth's Massapequa home on Thursday morning. A "for-sale" sign was posted on the front lawn and neighbors said the Cape Cod style home had recently undergone extensive renovations.

A LinkedIn page for Roth noted he worked for Level 3 Communications, a data networking company. A company spokesman declined to comment.

Jane Stone, who has lived in Roth's neighborhood for more than 50 years, said Roth was always pleasant and would often use his snow blower to clear neighbors' walkways in the winter. She said she spoke to him sometime last week and he was proud to show off his home's renovations.

"He was very happy and delighted and asked us to come over for a barbecue," she said, although they never followed through on the invitation. "He seemed very happy and everything, but this is before the house went on sale."