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Missing Hilo boater found safe

By Star-Advertiser staff

LAST UPDATED: 1:15 p.m. HST, Sep 27, 2013

A 48-year-old man, who was the object of a nearly week-long search by the Coast Guard and Hawaii County police and fire, was rescued Sunday but the rescue was only reported to authorities on Thursday.

Richard Gomez was found by a Volcano National Park Ranger after his boat broke up in the surf while attempting to come ashore Sunday.

The park ranger rendered basic first-aid to Gomez and then took him to a local campsite, the Coast Guard said in a statement.

"Had the boater in this case carried a reliable form of communication such as a handheld VHF radio, rescuers may have been able to eliminate several unnecessary search hours that resources were diverted from other missions," said Cmdr. Steve Wheeler, Sector Honolulu Search and Rescue Mission Coordinator. "A VHF radio distress call can often be picked up and triangulated by the Coast Guard's Rescue 21 system, which may reduce the search area and can change the outcome of incidents like this".

Gomez left Hilo in a small row boat at 10 a.m., Sept. 20, and was reported missing by friends.

An HC-130 Hercules airplane crew from Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point and the 87-foot Coast Guard Cutter Kittiwake assisted in the search.

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