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Search for Hiker Kyle Brittain Suspended

September 23, 2019, 1:37 PM HST
* Updated September 23, 1:40 PM
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Kyle Brittain. Courtesy photo

After 24 days of searching, the family of missing hiker Kyle Brittain has suspended daily search efforts.

“We have yet to uncover any details regarding Kyle’s disappearance or his location,” Steve Brittain, Kyle’s father, wrote in an email to Big Island Now. “At this point, we have suspended the day-to-day search operation and are focusing on the missing person investigation.”

Kyle Brittain, 27, of Hilo, was last seen on Friday, Aug. 30, 2019, in the Waipio Valley Lookout parking lot. Police and rescue personnel handled the search for Brittain early on.

After they suspended efforts, Brittain’s father compiled a search team of expert search personnel and volunteers from the community.

Steve Brittain recruited the help of Chris Berquist, of the Search Tech Advisory Team (STAT) who captained searches for Amanda Eller and Noah Mina on Maui, after six days. Eller was located alive after 16 days. Mina’s was discovered after nine days. Helicopters played crucial roles in the location of both missing persons.

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On day 12 of the search, data confirmed that Kyle Brittain’s cell phone pinged on the Z trail. While he had never hiked the trail, he’d told his family hiking that trail was his plan for the day. That was the last major development in the search effort.

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“This decision to suspend the daily search operations was the most difficult decision we’ve had to make yet, but it was made by the family based on the information, or lack of information, received to date,” Steve Brittain said. “To continue the operation would be to be placing people in more and more remote locations with less and less chance of finding Kyle. We have searched all of Waipio Valley, the Z trail, the plateau between Waipio and Waimanu and Waimanu Valley.”

Police continue to investigate Kyle Brittain’s disappearance as a missing person case, which has been its official classification since Sept. 1. The family is offering a $5,000 reward for any information “relating to Kyle’s return.”

“I cannot express enough gratitude for all the people involved in the search effort and all of the love and support that have been offered to us by everyone in Hawai‘i County, the State of Hawai‘i and throughout the country,” Steve Brittain said. “The outpouring of love and support has been tremendous and that’s what keeps us going. We are not giving up hope, just refocusing our efforts.”

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“The question in my mind every day is, ‘Why?'” he continued. “We may never know the answer to that question, but we can look for the good and the gratitude that may come out of this. Everybody who is involved in this ordeal has been touched in some way in their life. How this experience can be used to help others is what it’s all about. We will talk more about that later. For now, continue your prayers and continue to love and support each other.”

Big Island Now correspondent Crystal Richard contributed to this report.

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