The Hawaii Police Department (HPD) requests the public's assistance in locating a 66-year-old Michael Kitagawachi of Hōnaunau, the missing OC1 paddler last seen on Saturday morning (June 5th).
The search for Kitagawachi continues into a third day.
Published by: HIRSC - Hawaii Island (Hōlualoa) Team
Hawai’i Police Department Kona Patrol Sergeant David Araki Phone: (808) 326-4646, ext.253 Report No. 21-045154 On Saturday, June 05, 2021, it was reported by a family acquaintance that a fisherman had found a 15-foot teal-colored one-man canoe approximately 1 mile offshore of Honaunau Bay. The one-man canoe was identified as belonging to 66-year old Michael Kitagawachi of Kailua-Kona.
Kitagawachi is reported to have left his residence earlier that morning and normally returns home by 8:30 a.m. He was reported to be in good health and no foul play is suspected at this time.
The Hawai’i Fire Department and Coast Guard were contacted and are making area checks in the ocean and the immediate coastline.
Michael Kitagawachi is described as being 5 ft. 8 inches tall, weighing 150 lbs. with white shaggy long hair and black colored eyes. He was last seen wearing a white-colored rash guard shirt and black board shorts.
Police are asking anyone with any information regarding the current whereabouts of Michael Kitagawachi to contact the Hawai’i Police Department’s non-emergency number at (808) 935-3311 or Officer Krimsen Abilla at (808) 326-4646, ext. 253.
Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call the island-wide Crime Stoppers number at 961-8300 and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000.00. Crime Stoppers is a volunteer program run by ordinary citizens who want to keep their community safe. Crime Stoppers does not record calls or subscribe to any Caller ID service. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.
Details related to the ongoing search for Kitagawachi:
Published by: HIRSC - Hawaii Island (Hōlualoa and Kamuela) Team
(Photos courtesy of HIRSC - Administrator Benjamin Agdeppa, please message Ben directly for photo use, mahalo.)
The Hawaii Fire Department (HFD) along with the Hawaii Police Department (HPD), Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), United States Coast Guard (USCG), and U.S. Navy responded to a report of a missing paddler last seen in waters offshore of Hōnaunau Bay (Two-Step Beach) in South Kona on Saturday morning (June 5th).
The initial call came in at 10:36 am Saturday morning and HFD Crews from the Captain Cook and Kailua (Rescue Company 7) Fire Stations along with Chopper 1, Battalion 2, USCG C-130/MH-65 Dolphin Helicopter/William Hart Cutter from Honolulu, DLNR - DOCARE Officers, US Navy MH-60R Helicopter, and HPD Officers from the Kona Patrol responded to the scene at Hōnaunau Bay in South Kona.
At first light on Sunday morning (June 6th), HFD, USCG, and US Navy personnel continued with their search for a missing 66-year-old male paddler who was last seen near Hōnaunau Boat Ramp on Saturday morning at around 5:50 am. Rescue crews had greatly expanded their search further down along the South Kona Coast as far as the shoreline and waters near Miloli'i Village.
HFD Rescue Divers also conducted surface and underwater searches of the waters near Hōnaunau Bay, while Chopper 1 continued with the search by air of waters south of Hōnaunau Bay to far as Miloli'i Bay and approximately 2-3 miles offshore as well.
The reasons why rescue crews had shifted their search further south was due to data from tide buoys deployed by USCG on Saturday afternoon and evening, indicated the tide near Hōnaunau Bay was currently pushing towards the south and southwest, crews focused efforts south of Hōnaunau Bay.
Bystanders/volunteers in canoes and also on private jet skis and fishing boats continued with their search efforts in waters offshore Hōnaunau Bay and also along the South Kona Coast as well. Multiple individuals also continued to search the surrounding shoreline and other beaches and bays in South Kona on foot.
Five members from the HIRSC - Hawaii Island Team also joined the search on Sunday morning and conducted searches by land and also by boat until sunset on Sunday evening. HIRSC Team members conducting land search along the South Kona Coast (between Ho'okena Beach Park and Honomalino) had also deployed a drone with a camera to help scan shorelines and cliff areas not accessible by foot, the drone was only deployed during times when emergency aircraft was not flying in the area or on breaks and operated by HIRSC Team with FAA Part 107 License. Sadly, HIRSC Team search efforts also yielded negative findings as well.
At 4:30 pm Sunday afternoon, HFD Crews had suspended their search operations for the day and will return again at first light Monday morning (June 7th). HFD crew's result for the second day of searching also yielded negative findings.
At last check, as of 9:00 pm Sunday evening, USCG and US Navy crews were continuing to search waters between Hōnaunau Bay to Pebble Beach (Kona Paradise subdivision) in South Kona. They are expected to continue into the evening and early morning hours by water and air.
Initial Update on Hōnaunau Bay Search and Rescue:
Upon the arrival of emergency crews, a report came in from bystanders (or fishermen on a boat) reporting discovering an empty one-man canoe floating in waters approximately 1 mile offshore of Hōnaunau Bay. Bystanders had searched for over 1/2 mile in all directions and came up with negative findings. They then brought the canoe back to shore, where a family member later arrived at the Hōnaunau Boat Ramp and confirmed that the canoe belonged to a 66-year-old male paddler, who was last seen or heard from earlier on Saturday morning. They later located the paddler's vehicle near Two-Step Beach with his phone located inside the vehicle. Family members and bystanders awaited the arrival of emergency crews.
Once emergency crews arrived at the scene, HFD crews immediately began a search of the immediate area by land, and HFD Rescue Crews, Chopper 1, USCG HC-130 Hercules, Cutter, MH-65 Helicopter, and DLNR - DOCARE on jet skis later arrived at the scene to begin searching the surrounding waters and shoreline by air and sea. Numerous bystanders in outrigger canoes, on private boats, and jet skis also assisted emergency crews in searching the surrounding waters all the way to Ho'okena Beach through Saturday afternoon.
The search on Saturday encompassed waters from Ke'ei Point (Ke'ei Beach) to Ho'okena Beach and extended as far out as 3 miles by HFD personnel and bystanders. USCG continued grid searches further offshore of Hōnaunau Bay and was expected to continue searching through Saturday evening.
As of 6:53 pm Saturday evening, HFD Crews had suspended their search for the missing male paddler and came up with negative findings. Crews are expected to continue their search at first light on Sunday morning (June 6th) for a second day.
The 66-year-old male paddler being described as being 5 feet, 8 inches tall, weighing 155 pounds, and was last seen wearing a white long sleeve rash guard and black board shorts. The male paddler was also described as a very seasoned paddler who frequents the waters of Hōnaunau Bay.
USCG Watchstanders also issued an Urgent Marine Information Broadcast notice to mariners to be on the lookout for the missing paddler. Waterway users in the area are asked to keep a sharp lookout for signs of distress and anyone with information is requested to contact the Coast Guard Sector Honolulu command center at 808-842-2600.