Kauai County police say a 23-year-old visitor from Nebraska remains missing today following an “extensive search operation” in Kokee on Sunday.
Samuel Martinez reportedly flew to Kauai on May 12 with plans to hike and camp while on the island. He was expected to return to Lincoln, Nebraska, on May 25, but missed his flight.
About two dozen members of the Kauai Police Department, Kauai Fire Department, Hawaii State Department of Land and Natural Resources, Kauai Civil Air Patrol and Kauai Search and Rescue took part in land and air searches from approximately 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Sunday.
“Many acres” were searched, including the Kukui Trail, Sugi Grove, the Alakai Trail and Kalalau Beach, KPD said. Kauai Fire Department’s Air-1 helicopter was also able to traverse the entire inaccessible western and northern regions of the area.
Crews were also dispatched to Waimea and Kalalau valleys, where personnel searched and provided campers in those areas with photos and information pertaining to Martinez.
Additional searches were scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. today, with the majority of attention being paid to the Koke’e Lodge area.
“We’d like nothing better than to reunite Mr. Martinez with his family and we are doing everything we can to hopefully make that happen,” said Investigative Services Bureau Assistant Chief Bryson Ponce. “I’d also like to take a moment to express my gratitude not only to the community for their compassion and vigilance in keeping a proactive eye out for Mr. Martinez, but also to the agencies and personnel who are closely involved in the searches. There are many people working together in hopes of bringing Mr. Martinez home safely.”
The case was initially reported to the Lincoln Police Department, who reached out to KPD on May 27 for assistance. A miscellaneous outside assist report was generated and an investigation on-island commenced, KPD said.
A preliminary investigation showed flight records and safe travel records indicated Martinez arrived on Kauai on May 12 and was screened for entry at Lihue Airport. He later acquired eight separate permits to camp at different locations, including Kokee State Park and the Kalalau Trail.
Martinez is approximately 6 feet tall and weighs around 180 pounds. He has brown hair and brown eyes.
Anyone with information about Martinez’s whereabouts is asked to call KPD at (808) 241-1711. Those who wish to remain anonymous can call Crime Stoppers Kauaʿi at (808) 246-8300 or visit cskauai.org.