Coast Guard, Hawaii County Fire Department searching for missing free diver near Big Island

AhiHONOLULU — The Coast Guard and Hawaii County Fire Department are searching for a missing free diver in his 50s off the Big Island of Hawaii, Thursday.

The crew of a Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point MH-65 Dolphin helicopter is currently searching for the diver along with the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Ahi. Hawaii County Fire Department dive teams, rescue boat and helicopter crews are also on scene searching. An HC-130 Hercules crew is scheduled to join the search by midmorning.

An Urgent Marine Information Broadcast has been issued alerting mariners in the area to keep a sharp lookout and report any sightings to the Coast Guard Sector Honolulu command center.

Watchstanders at the sector received a report at 2:40 a.m. Thursday, from two friends reporting the diver missing. They were diving with him and he was last seen at 10:30 p.m. Wednesday wearing a black wetsuit in the vicinity of North Kohala, Big Island, at the end of Old Coast Guard Road. The watchstanders immediately issued the UMIB launched the Dolphin crew from Air Station Barbers Point and dispatched the Cutter Ahi crew.

The Dolphin crew arrived on seen and located a submerged dive light, but it was undetermined if the diver was in the area of the light when it was sighted. Hawaii County Fire Department divers have since recovered the light and a fishing spear, but the diver remains missing.

Anyone with information that may help locate the diver is asked to contact the Coast Guard Sector Honolulu Command Center at 808-842-2600.

Weather conditions are currently reported as northeast winds at 20 – 25 mph with seas up to 6-feet and good visibility. The disappearance of the diver does not appear to be connected to Wednesday night’s tsunami advisory as his disappearance took place several hours prior to the forecasted arrival of any earthquake generated waves or currents.

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