U.S. Coast Guard air crew rescues free diver off Lanai

HONOLULU — At approximately 11:35 a.m. today, an air crew aboard a U.S. Coast Guard HH-65 Dolphin helicopter rescued a Lanai free diver who had been reported missing more than four nautical miles from shore.

The diver, 52-year-old Bruno Ambay, had been reported missing by three friends from a 15-foot boat at 9:40 a.m. The four men had been free diving approximately four nautical miles off Manele Bay, Lanai, when Ambay went missing.

Coast Guard search and rescue planners in a 24-hour command center in Honolulu launched a search using crews aboard the HH-65 helicopter from Air Station Barbers Point and aboard a 47-foot motor lifeboat and 25-foot small boat from Station Maui.

The crews were on scene before 10 a.m. and reported ideal search conditions. The air crew spotted Ambay swimming along a rocky shoreline area at about 11:35 a.m., hoisted him aboard and then flew to Manele Bay to transfer him to a waiting Maui County Emergency Medical Services crew.

The crew aboard the 47-foot motor lifeboat took the divers’ Boston whaler in tow to Manele Bay. The vessel had lost power off shore.

“This was a great example of a quick response to a quick call for help,” said Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Jared Friedman-Torres, a search and rescue controller in Honolulu who planned the search. “His diving partners knew something was wrong, gave us a call and we got there quickly and then partnered with Maui County EMS to get him to safety.”

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