Coast Guard suspends search for missing Maui paddler

Coast Guard Cutter Kiska

Cutter Kiska file photo

HONOLULU — The Coast Guard suspended its search a approximately 4 a.m. for a paddler last seen Wednesday near Kaupo on Maui.

Crews aboard air and surface assets from the Coast Guard searched an area more than 218 square miles, an area approximately the size of Molokai.

The Coast Guard was notified Wednesday evening by the Maui Fire Department that a Maui resident had not returned to shore from a paddling excursion Wednesday and was last seen paddling near Kaupo.

“Search crews scoured the shoreline from the central part of the bottom of Maui all the way down west of Kahoolawe for signs of the paddler,” said Chief Petty Officer Matthew Couling, Honolulu Sector Command Center search and rescue coordinator.

Searching Friday were crews aboard an HH-65 Dolphin helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point, the Coast Guard Cutter Ahi, an 87-foot patrol boat homeported in Honolulu, the Coast Guard Cutter Kiska, a 110-foot patrol boat based on the Big Island, and a response boat from Coast Guard Station Maui.

The paddler was last seen wearing black shorts and a black top.

“With help from the fire department and the police department, we saturated the area with all assets possible, but we were unable to find any sign of the paddler,” said Couling. “It’s always unfortunate when we don’t reunite the missing with their family and friends.”

The Coast Guard urges all who work and play on the water to practice safe boating at all times. Key safety items such as life jackets, signaling devices, VHF radioes, and float plans are vital should mariners find themselves in distress. For more boating safety information, please visit www.uscgboating.org/.

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