POSTED: 2:56 p.m. HST, Feb 2, 2013
LAST UPDATED: 4:36 p.m. HST, Feb 2, 2013
The Coast Guard today suspended its search for a missing Hawaii Island spear fisherman last seen Wednesday afternoon walking on Honaunau Beach with diving gear.
The Hawaii County Fire Department, however, is scheduled to continue the search for 41 year-old Jeremiah Nathan through today and possibly longer, depending on any discoveries, HFD Battalion Chief Gerald Kosaki said.
“The decision to suspend a search is one of the hardest we have to make,” said Coast Guard Cmdr. Shannon Gilreath, acting commander of the Honolulu sector. “Our deepest sympathy goes out to the family and friends of Mr. Nathan during this difficult time.”
Nathan was last seen around 4 p.m. Wednesday wearing a blue-green camouflage full body wet suit, Coast Guard officials said.
Kosaki said Nathan was supposed to leave Thursday morning on a flight to California to attend his brother’s wedding Saturday, but his wife called a friend on Hawaii island when he didn’t arrive as scheduled. The friend called her fiance, one of Nathan’s dive companions, and the two began a search.
Kosaki said Nathan planned on sleeping over at his dive companion’s house the night so his friend could drive him to the airport in the morning. When Nathan didn’t show up, his friend assumed he had found another ride, Kosaki said.
Nathan’s friend and his fiance searched for signs of him at several dive sites they frequent and around 6:30 p.m. came across his unlocked truck at the Honaunau historic site with his keys, wallet, shirt and cell phone still inside.
When they noticed his dive bag was empty, the pair searched up and down the shoreline, Kosaki said. Shortly after that, they called police to report a possible missing person and notified Nathan’s brother that Nathan would likely not be attending his wedding.
Officials said an aerial and shoreline search for Nathan began at 8:24 p.m. Thursday and was called off at midnight. It involved fire rescue crews, the Coast Guard, private boats and National Park Service workers.
The search continued Friday and this morning.
Fire officials said the search included surface and dive operations a mile north and south of Nathan’s last known location, and a shoreline search that spanned the same distance. Air operations extended to four miles in both directions, out to about a quarter mile offshore, officials said.
Search patterns were based on Coast Guard drift buoy data and ocean conditions.
The Coast Guard called off its search at 11:30 a.m. today after a Coast Guard Auxiliary airplane crew concluded a flight that began at first light.
Officials said a crew aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Kiska and an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew conducted searches Friday, and the whole search off Hawaii island’s west coast covered approximately 900 square miles.
Anyone with information on Nathan’s whereabouts is urged to contact the Sector Honolulu Command Center at 842-2600 or the Hawaii County Fire Department at 808-961-8336.