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UPDATE: Swimmer Swept Away at Kehena Beach Identified

Posted January 8, 2013, 07:08 PM HST Updated January 9, 2013, 11:30 AM HST
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The man apparently overcome by high surf and strong currents was identified by police as Eric Dietz, shown above. HPD photo.

Police have identified a man reported missing while swimming at Kehena Beach as Eric T. Dietz.

The 29-year-old man also known as “Eroz” and “Arrows” has no permanent address, police said.

Rescue personnel from the Hawaii Fire Department today continued their search for Dietz, who was reportedly swept out to sea Sunday afternoon.

Dietz was apparently unable to get back to shore because of high waves and strong currents.

A bodyboarder attempted to rescue the man but lost the victim under water approximately 100 yards offshore, the department said in a statement issued Sunday night.

Capt. Alex Alameida of the Pahoa Fire Station said waves were running at about 10 feet that day.

The lookout and parking lot on the cliff above Kehena Beach is shown in this Google Earth image.

The lookout and parking lot on the cliff above Kehena Beach is shown in this Google Earth image.

Kehena Beach is a narrow black-sand backed by a cliff at least 30 feet in height. It is located just south of the Kalapana Seaview Estates.

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As one of only a few sandy beaches in Puna, it often attracts a large number of people, including some that sunbathe in the nude.

The Coast Guard assisted county personnel on Sunday and Monday with a MH-65 Dolphin helicopter based out of Air Station Barbers Point. An HC-130 Hercules airplane was also used Sunday.

The Coast Guard called off its portion of the search Monday night.

Almeida said today’s search was being done from the air using the department’s Chopper 1, by divers dropped from the helicopter and by ground crews.

Battalion Chief Jerry Lum said the search area extended a half-mile to the north and two miles to the south, the direction the current moves.

Fire department officials said three days is the usual amount of time allotted for an ocean search. It was not known late Tuesday afternoon whether the search would be extended.

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