Fire crews call off search for missing kayaker

Fire crews call off search for missing kayaker
Capt. Terry Seelig, Honolulu Fire Department
Capt. Terry Seelig, Honolulu Fire Department

By Minna Sugimoto - bio | email

WAIALUA (HawaiiNewsNow) - After three days of intense searching, Honolulu fire crews have called off the search for a missing kayaker.

It was a trying Thanksgiving Day for Russell Yoshida's family and friends, as they huddled on a Waialua beach Thursday.

The U.S. Coast Guard suspended its search for the Waialua resident Wednesday night. This was the third and final day of the mission for Honolulu fire crews.

With the North Shore surf subsided, fire rescue teams returned to the water on jet skis and with dive gear to look for any sign of Russell Yoshida.

"We appreciate the interest from the public. There's been so much outpouring of support for the family," Capt. Terry Seelig, Honolulu Fire Department, said. "Our hearts go out to them in this difficult time."

The 53-year-old avid fisherman took off on his 10-foot, plastic yellow kayak Monday and failed to return home that night.

Earlier this week, searchers found Yoshida's paddle, fishing rod and other items, but not his kayak. On this Thanksgiving Day, family, friends and others watched the operation from shore.

"That makes it especially difficult for the family at this time of year. Any time would be terrible," Seelig said. "We're dedicated to serving them and continuing this. You know, we're hopeful still."

The waves were smaller but the water was murky, creating another challenge for the determined crew.

"Looking for anything that would show a sign of where best to look next," Seelig said.

Yoshida is a city utility worker and devoted church member.

On Wednesday night, the Coast Guard said, "It is with a heavy heart that we suspend this search...we simply do not have anywhere else to look. Our hearts and thoughts are with Russell's family and friends."

"We know that there's a lot of aloha for this family and for Mr. Yoshida from the community," Seelig said. "He's well-known, well-respected, and sometimes bad things happen to good people."

Again, fire officials announced Thursday night that their search for Yoshida is over, unless new information comes in.

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