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Search Continues on Kauai for Missing Nebraska Man

Search Continues on Kauai for Missing Nebraska Man

Search efforts continued on Monday, May 31st, 2021 for 23-year-old Samuel Martinez of Lincoln, Nebraska, who is still missing. About two dozen people from the Kauai Police Department, the Kauai Fire Department (including an Air-1 pilot and personnel from Rescue 3), the Department of Land and Natural Resources, Kauai Civil Air Patrol, and Kauai Search and Rescue, continued their land and air search operation, reports the County of Kauai.

Kokee State Park near the Kokee Lodge was once again used as a landing zone for the numerous aerial checks conducted by Air-1. Many acres of land were once again searched by foot and air in Kokeee and Waimea state parks.

The areas traversed on Monday included several trails, such as the top ridges of Nualolo and Milolii. Kalalau Beach and its campgrounds were also searched, as well as combing through an unmarked trail in a grid-like pattern that starts at the back of Kalalau Valley and leads up to the top of the ridge near the Kalalau Lookout. Additionally, Milolii Beach was searched, as well as its valley. The bottom of Waimea Valley to the top of Koaie Canyon were also traversed. KFD personnel also drove ATVs through the entire Waimea Valley, including the area near Kukui Trail, and spoke with campers and hunters along the way. Air-1 also searched the entire Polihale side of Kokee.

Investigators were able to track cell phone pings from Martinez’s cell phone at about 4:40 p.m. on May 12 in the vicinity of Waimea Canyon Drive Road. The last ping obtained from his cell phone was around 8:20 p.m. in the same general area of Waimea and Kokee state parks. Cell phone data was run through the Federal Bureau of Investigation, as well as Civil Air Patrol’s Air Force Rescue Coordination Center.

“Unfortunately, we haven’t found any sign of Mr. Martinez throughout our searches. We also haven’t encountered anyone who has accurately identified him and his whereabouts,” said Investigative Services Bureau Assistant Chief Bryson Ponce. “At this point, there are several possibilities that could have taken place, especially on an island with dangerous terrain in places like Waimea Canyon and Kokee State Park trails, but we are still hoping for the best.” Without any further leads, the aerial search for Martinez has been suspended. However, volunteers from Kauai Search and Rescue plan to continue ground search efforts on Tuesday.

New Search Being Organized

Katie York, who was part of the search and rescue (SAR) team that rescued Amanda Eller on Maui in 2019 after she was lost in the Makawao Forest for 17 days, is spreading the word about a search for Martinez that will begin on Wednesday, June 2nd. York posted to the Kalalau Trail group on Facebook with the following:

Kauai Search

“I’m here to ask that you share Samuels post to your personal page. There are 15 THOUSAND of you in this group and one share, one added searcher, just ONE can make a difference.

Be kind – there’s enough nasty out there and a group this big with members that all love the most beautiful place can help bring this kiddo home safe.

From the original post:

“Please help us find Samuel! We need fit, experienced hikers, mountain bikers and hunters to help us! We will start Wednesday at 8:00 am @ Kokee Museum/Lodge area. We are needing a handful of folks to consider an overnight stay too. There will be a 2nd shift at 12:00. Please download the Gaia or Avenza app prior to the search. Bring water, a day pack and snacks. If you have ANY questions, please contact Chris @ 808-344-0226.

Thank you!!”

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