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Kauai man rescued after ditching hospital, spending 3 hours in ocean

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Multiple Kauai agencies took part in finding and rescuing a 40-year-old Wailua man missing for nearly three hours Friday in waters off Kaiakea Point in Kealia.

The Kauai County Fire Department said first responders went to Kaiakea Point around 4:10 p.m. Friday after receiving a call about a missing swimmer. Firefighters on the ground were eventually joined by Kauai Ocean Safety Bureau lifeguards, the Kauai Police Department, U.S. Coast Guard and paramedics from American Medical Response.

KFD’s Air 1 helicopter also participated in efforts to locate the man, reported to be a patient from Samuel Mahelona Memorial Hospital who apparently left the facility without proper authorization and jumped into the sea near Kaiakea Point. After beginning their search at Kaiakea, rescuers moved to Kealia Beach in an area where the Kilauea River meets the ocean.

Utilizing firefighters on a rescue board along with multiple jet skis, KFD continued a shoreline search from Kealia Beach to the area known as Pineapple Dump, while also searching for the man from an elevated vantage point on a nearby hillside. Firefighters later relocated again to the area of Kamole Road in order to get a better view of the beach below.

Just before 6 p.m., the U.S. Coast Guard and additional KFD personnel arrived on scene, with a Coast Guard helicopter joining the search a few minutes later.

The man was spotted at approximately 6:50 p.m. in the ocean about two miles north of the location where he was last seen. After being plucked from the water he was transported to Nawiliwili Small Boat Harbor, where concerned family members and KPD were waiting.

Once the man was medically cleared at Wilcox Medical Center, he was returned to Mahelona Memorial to continue treatment.

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