Search mission ends as man's body is pulled from waters off Point Panic

Officials recover the body of a missing man in waters off Point Panic.
Officials recover the body of a missing man in waters off Point Panic.

By Minna Sugimoto - bio | email

KAKAAKO (HawaiiNewsNow) - An ocean search operation involving the Honolulu Fire Department, state sheriffs and the Coast Guard ended with a grisly discovery about 10 hours after it began Tuesday. The body of a man was pulled from waters near a popular surf spot on Oahu's south shore.

Honolulu police homicide investigators, sheriffs and others were trying to solve the mystery of how a man wound up dead at Point Panic. Right now, the case is classified as an unattended death.

It all began under the cover of darkness. Honolulu fire and Coast Guard crews scoured the waters off Point Panic after two fishermen reported an unusual sighting at about 1 AM.

"They saw what looked like a male figure run towards the edge of the rocks," Lt. Leigh Cotterell, US Coast Guard, said. "They didn't see him jump out. They took their eyes off him. But they did hear a splash."

"We were notified that a person had driven down to Point Panic, run from the car and jumped in the ocean," Capt. Terry Seelig, Honolulu Fire Department, said.

At about 11 AM, a couple of bystanders and a deputy sheriff familiar with ocean conditions in the area spotted a body face down in the water.

"The body was floating like maybe half naked," Jordan Silva, witness, said. "I guess the waves was hitting him against the rocks. Then, one of the guys wen jump inside the water and try pull him out."

Investigators tried to piece together what happened and looked to a red Jeep Cherokee that was left in the parking lot for clues.

Sheriffs went to the vehicle's registered owner's apartment on Halekauwila Street and reportedly spoke with his teenaged daughter. The building's manager says the man also has a son in college on the mainland and a wife he's separated from in Korea.

The Honolulu Medical Examiner's office is scheduled to conduct an autopsy and work on a positive ID Wednesday.

Witnesses say the man had injuries that may have occurred while he was in the water.

"All over his back had scratches, scrapes and bruises and stuff like that," Silva said.

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