The U.S. Coast Guard supsended its search at sunset Sunday for a small aircraft carrying three Oahu residents that disappeared from radar Friday night off of Molokai.
“Unfortunately, right now we really have nothing to go on,” said Coast Guard spokeswoman Tara Molle, noting that officials hadn’t found any debris from the plane or oil slicks. She said that the search could be resumed if there is a development in the case.
Those aboard the Cessna included pilot Michael Childers and passengers John Mizuno and Whitney Thomas, all in their twenties.
Responders conducted a total of 29 searches covering more than 1,400 square miles, according to a Coast Guard press release sent out to the media on Sunday evening.
“Our most heartfelt condolences go out to the families and friends of Michael, Whitney and John,” said Lt. Nic Iannarone, Coast Guard Joint Rescue Coordination Center command duty officer, in a press release. “Suspending a search is an incredibly difficult decision to make, especially during the holiday season. Our crews along with Maui County Fire Department and the National Parks Service have completely covered the search areas on ground and sea and have found no trace of the Cessna.”
Rescuse personnel had been patrolling both the ocean and the shore in search of any sign of the plane or the passengers, at times battling low visibility, high seas and and windy conditions.
Coast Guard crews searched by air with a C-130 Hercules airplane and MH-65 Dolphin helicopter. Crews were also deployed on cutter Kittiwake and a patrol boat called the Galveston Island. Personnel from the Molokai and Maui County fire departments assisted in the search.
The Hawaii Control Faciltity at Honolulu Airport reported the Cessna 172 as missing at 7 p.m. on Friday shortly after it had departed Molokai for Oahu. Officials believe that the plane may have crashed about 4 miles east of Ilio Point.