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Rescue crews suspend search for missing Big Isle boaters

  • COURTESY U.S. COAST GUARD

    The Hawaii County Fire Department called the Coast Guard Sunday morning after a mariner found a 12-foot Zodiac dinghy adrift offshore.

The Hawaii County Fire Department and Coast Guard suspended its search Wednesday for missing boaters off the Big Island.

The search was suspended at dusk Wednesday following a three-day search. There were no signs of the missing boaters, said Battalion Chief Darwin Okinaka.

One of the boaters is believed to be Derek Liu, 52, of Honokaa who was last seen by his family Saturday afternoon at home before he headed out to go fishing.

CrimeStoppers released a bulletin Friday on Liu who is wanted for violating terms of his bail.

The other boater is possibly a woman.

A fisherman found a 12-foot inflatable boat about a mile off of Kohala Estates and towed it to the Kawaihae boat ramp. Campers has said they saw a man and a woman on a Zodiac-type dinghy Saturday, similar to the one found.

The fire department and Coast Guard launched a search Sunday. A fire rescue helicopter and divers canvassed the grounds and waters respectively along the North Kohala coastline. The Coast Guard deployed its MH-65 helicopter and cutter Kittiwake to assist.

Okinaka said the boat and Liu’s Nissan pickup truck that was left at a Kawaihae campsite has been released to his family.

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