Coast Guard rescues 3 divers off Molokai - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Coast Guard rescues 3 divers off Molokai

Photo courtesy: Coast Guard Station Honolulu Photo courtesy: Coast Guard Station Honolulu
Courtesy: Coast Guard 14th District Courtesy: Coast Guard 14th District
Courtesy: Coast Guard 14th District Courtesy: Coast Guard 14th District
MOLOKAI (HawaiiNewsNow) -

The Coast Guard rescued three missing divers near Penguin Bank on Molokai, Monday.

The three divers rescued were a Mike Hatcher, Rob Ryan, and Zdenek Cabla. They were found by a Coast Guard 45-foot Response Boat six miles from their original location at 4 p.m., nearly five hours after they were reported missing. They brought the divers aboard, confirmed they had no injuries and delivered them to their original vessel. The RB-M crew escorted the recreational vessel safely to Hawaii Kai.

The Coast Guard was called about 11:20 a.m. by the operator of a 20-foot cuddy cabin vessel. He said he was diving with three friends when their vessel started to drift away. The three missing divers decided to wait on the surface while the operator recovered the vessel. After he did so, he returned to their previous location to find his friends gone.

"He kind of veered off in a different angle, and from that moment on, we're lost," said Hatcher. 

The Coast Guard said weather conditions were reported as northeast winds at 10 mph with seas up to 3 feet and 10 miles of visibility.

Hatcher said although weather conditions were favorable, at one point, the trio came face to face with a 10-foot tiger shark.

"Znenek yells, 'Tiger shark!' And we're like, 'Aw you got to be kidding me! Right now?!' No help around, no boat to jump into or land to jump onto or anything to get out of harms way. And probably was like a 10-foot tiger shark, head was probably like this wide, wider than our shoulders and it started swimming right up to us," Hatcher said.

Hatcher said they trio used their spear guns to fight it off. 

Command center chief at Sector Honolulu, Lt. Kevin Edes sees this as an opportunity to remind divers of safe diving practices.

"The Coast Guard advises all divers to have a dive buoy, signaling device, and reflective equipment,” Edes said. “This is an outstanding case where effective planning and diligent search efforts brought three people home safe to their families."

Hatcher said they used a disco-like ball that they often use to hunt fish and a bright neon rubber that Hatcher makes on the end of their spear guns to flag search and rescue crews down.

"So we can wave that about four to five feet up  in the air. The Coast Guard guys said yeah we definitely saw all of that going on. They turned and came right up to us and we were like, 'Yes!' High-fiving and hugging," he said.

An MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew and an HC-130 Hercules airplane crew from Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point were also involved in the search. The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Ahi was diverted to assist with the search. They have resumed their original search for the Marine aviators off the North Shore. The Hercules airplane has joined them. 

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