Coast Guard concludes search for missing fishermen off Hawaii Island

Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Gerczak file photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Matthew West

Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Gerczak file photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Matthew West

HONOLULU — The Coast Guard has concluded the search for two fishermen presumed to have been swept off the shore of Hawaii Island on Wednesday night.

James Oyama, 62, and Jay Jara, 37, remain missing.

“Pending any further developments, we’ve suspended the active search for these men,” said Cmdr. Benjamin Gates, Deputy Sector Commander, Coast Guard Sector Honolulu. “Suspending a search without a positive resolution is never easy. Our condolences go out to the families and friends of James and Jay.”


Responders conducted 28 separate searches and covered nearly 1,000 square nautical miles in their combined effort to find the two men.

Involved in the searches were:

  • Hawaii County Fire “Chopper 1” helicopter crews
  • Hawaii County Fire ground teams
  • Hawaii County Police
  • A Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point HC-130 Hercules airplane crews
  • Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crews
  • U.S. Marine Corps Forces Pacific Huey and Cobra helicopter crews
  • The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Gerczak (WPC 1126)

Hawaii County Dispatch relayed information to the Coast Guard at 7 a.m. Thursday reporting the two fishermen overdue after receiving a report from a family member at 5:46 a.m. James Oyama and Jay Jara reportedly went fishing at 5 p.m. in street clothes Wednesday at Whittington Beach Park on the southeast side of the island and were expected back before midnight. Responders located the fishermen’s vehicles in the beach park and their gear onshore in the breaking surf zone.

The weather on scene was around 15 mph winds and seas up to 8 feet. A small craft advisory remains in effect for the main Hawaiian Islands.


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