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Coast Guard Calls Off Search For Paddler Missing Off Big Island

June 8, 2021, 6:30 AM HST
* Updated June 8, 1:05 AM
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The Coast Guard suspended the active search for Michael Kitagawachi off Honaunau Beach on Monday, June 7.

Kitagawachi, 66-years-old, remains missing.

“Since Saturday our crews have worked closely with the Hawai´i County Fire Department, covering over 749 square nautical miles during 59 search hours,” said Darin McCracken, a search and rescue planner with Sector Honolulu. “During that time there has been no sign of Mr. Kitagawachi. While it is a difficult decision to make, we suspended the search after sunset today pending new information.”

The search had been ongoing since Saturday when Kitagawachi’s canoe was found adrift one mile off Honaunau Beach, where he regularly paddles. His vehicle was found at the beach with his phone inside.

At 10:35 a.m., Saturday, Sector Honolulu watchstanders received a report from the Hawai´i County Fire Department stating a good Samaritan found a canoe adrift off shore.

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It was discovered the canoe belonged to Kitagawachi and his car was found at the beach.

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Watchstanders issued an Urgent Marine Information Broadcast notice to mariners, launched the Air Station Barbers Point HC-130 Hercules and MH-65 Dolphin helicopter aircrews and diverted the Coast Guard Cutter William Hart (WPC 1134) to conduct searches of the area.

Hawai´i County Fire Department also deployed ground crews, a helicopter crew, and a boat crew in response.

A Navy Sea Hawk aircrew also joined in the search while good Samaritans aboard recreational vessels assisted over the following days.

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The weather on scene at the time of the call was seas less than 1 foot with light and variable winds.

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