HFD terminates its search for missing trail runner in Mokuleia

By Minna Sugimoto - bio | email

MOKULEIA (HawaiiNewsNow) - After a three-day operation, Honolulu fire crews on Tuesday have terminated their search for a missing trail runner in Mokuleia.

Visiting professor Are Hjorungnes became separated from his group Saturday. The final search effort included members of that running team, as well as faculty from the University of Hawaii.

Search teams from the Honolulu Fire Department, the Honolulu Police Department and the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, as well as civilian hikers, scoured the mountain above Dillingham Airfield with a renewed sense of urgency, knowing that sundown would likely mark the end of the mission.

"It is a critical day," Tony Kuh, UH Department of Electrical Engineering chair, said. "I just hope that they can find something. I did talk to, I guess, the mother and the sister yesterday. Of course, they were very distraught."

Are Hjorungnes is a mathematics professor in Norway. He's been on Oahu since last July, doing research with the Department of Electrical Engineering at the University of Hawaii.

"He's a very nice guy, so we interact socially," Kuh said. "Then we found out he's quite an avid outdoors person."

The 40-year-old was trail running with about half a dozen members of the Hawaiian Ultra Running Team Saturday, when he became separated.

Cheryl Loomis, who's considered the team mom, has been on site each day of the search.

"We're going to, you know, stay looking day and night until we find him because we know he's out there," she said.

Fire crews say they have conducted a systematic search of the network of trails in the area, and believe there's very little chance that Hjorungnes is still on a trail. That made the operation even more challenging.

"Where we're focusing now is off of the trails, onto the pass, and into some of the gulches and ravines that really are steep, rocky, uneven, overgrown with a low canopy," Capt. Terry Seelig, Honolulu Fire Department, said.

In three-plus days, there's been no sign of Hjorungnes. Loomis didn't want to give up.

"We know that he's hoping and waiting for someone to find him," she said.

Police say their helicopter flew over the area Monday night with a thermal imaging device. However, it did not pick up any sign of the missing man.

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