Search continues for Pāhoa woman reported missing while picking ‘opihi at ‘Hau Bush’

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The search continues for a 29-year-old woman from Pāhoa who went missing on July 9 while picking ʻopihi.

A male relative told police that he and Shanice Ogata-Staudinger were picking ʻopihi (snails) when they got separated at about 11 a.m. on Sunday in the area of Kahakai Boulevard and Papio Street in Pāhoa — at a spot commonly known as “Hau Bush.”

The relative, who was not identified, told police that Ogata-Staudinger had failed to return to their prearranged meeting spot on Sunday afternoon.

Hawai‘i Fire Battalion Chief K. Brown said the department was not notified about the incident until 6:30 p.m. on Sunday. By the time crews got to the area, darkness was setting in and it was overcast, limiting their search of the coastline to about an hour.

The Hawaiʻi Fire rescue and the U.S. Coast Guard continued the search on Monday and on Tuesday, with no signs of Ogata-Staudinger.

Brown described the area as having cliffs, adding: “There aren’t a lot of good exit or entrance points.”


He also said: “We don’t have confirmation that she went in the water.”

Shanice Ogata-Staudinger. Photo Courtesy: Hawai‘i Police Department

Ogata-Staudinger was charged with fourth-degree possession of a detrimental drug in June and was granted supervised release. She is scheduled to appear for arraignment on July 18.

Ogata-Staudinger also had a case open in 3rd Circuit Court where she is facing three class C felony offenses: second-degree assault and two counts of terroristic threatening. She’s also been charged with a misdemeanor offense of abuse of a household member.

Ogata-Staudinger was scheduled to appear in court for a trial setting hearing on June 13. However, she was not present and defense counsel was unaware of her whereabouts. A status hearing on the case was scheduled for Thursday.

But there have been several Big Island cases in the last decade of ʻopihi pickers going missing, with a few found deceased.


“It’s a pretty dangerous practice,” Deputy Chief Eric Moller with the Hawaiʻi Fire Department said.

People who pick ʻopihi traditionally go when there are low waves.

“The act of getting the ʻopihi takes the picker down to surf level as they are right below the water surface where they’re attached to the rocks,” Moller said.

ʻOpihi cling to rocks with a muscular foot that acts like a suction cup. Using a butter knife, the mussel is pried off the rock.

In 2021, the U.S. Coast Guard suspended the search for a missing 46-year-old freediver who was last seen picking ʻopihi off rocky Kaiwi Point, about 1/2 mile south of Honokōhau Harbor on the Big Island.


In November 2019, two ʻopihi pickers were in need of rescue in the Honokaʻa District of the Big Island. One person was stranded on shore about 60 feet below cliffs at Haina and was rescued by rope. The other person, a 40-year-old, was swept out to sea when there were swells about 15 feet high. He was never found.

In 2014, the search was suspended for 30-year-old Peter Mahoe, who was last seen climbing down a cliff near Cape Kumakahi to pick ʻopihi on the Big Islandʻs easternmost point.

In 2010, fire department divers located the remains of 41-year-old Josph Pacheco Jr. who had failed to return from picking ʻopihi. He was found about one mile north of Papai Bay on the Big Island.

Rescue crews by land and sea continue to search for Ogata-Staudinger.

Chopper I assisted in the search on Monday until about 10 a.m. when the brush fire broke out in Ka‘ū and the chopper was diverted to battle the blaze. Fire crews remained on the water searching, and received air support from the U.S. Coast Guard.

The search continued on Tuesday. Chopper I was searching by air until about 10:30 a.m. when it again was switched to assist in the Ka‘ū brush fire to help crews make sure it is completely out. If Ogata-Staudinger is not found Tuesday, Brown said the search will continue on Wednesday.

Brandi Williams, Search and Rescue Planner for the U.S. Coast Guard, said the agency has provided a vessel and helicopter to assist in searching for Ogata-Staudinger. While she was unaware of conditions on Sunday and Monday, Williams said there were four-foot waves and winds at 6 to 13 knots in the search area on Tuesday.

The Coast Guard plans to continue the search until Wednesday and will reassess the situation at that time.

The Hawaiʻi Fire Department’s protocol is to search for a missing person for three days. If they are not found within that time, they call off the search. Responders will continue looking for Ogata-Staudinger until Wednesday around sunset.

Tiffany DeMasters
Tiffany DeMasters is a full-time reporter for Pacific Media Group. Tiffany worked as the cops and courts reporter for West Hawaii Today from 2017 to 2019. She also contributed stories to Ke Ola Magazine and Honolulu Civil Beat.

Tiffany can be reached at [email protected].
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