Coast Guard continues search for missing snorkeler off Molokai

Molokini Snorkeler

Coast Guard and Maui Fire Department crews are scouring the ocean around Molokai in search of a snorkeler that’s been missing since Tuesday.

The distress call came just before 6 p.m. Tuesday from the sailing vessel, Gauguin.

The boat’s captain tells KHON2 that 56-year-old Paul Blackburn and his son were visiting from Illinois and were on a six-day cruise with the Honolulu Sailing Company, but while they were snorkeling near Molokini, the older Blackburn ran into trouble.

“They had gone out once at Molokini and they went out again a second time and that’s when the dad got in trouble. So the son came back and said ‘Do you see my dad?’ I said, ‘No,’ so I went out looking for him,” boat captain Mike Mickelwait said.

“So far since yesterday afternoon, we’ve searched all night and throughout today with our partners have covered over 170 square miles,” Coast Guard Commander Steven Wheeler said.

Blackburn was last seen wearing a white rash guard and board shorts. He was not wearing a life jacket.

The search will continue Thursday.

Anyone with information on this case is asked to call the Coast Guard at (808) 842-2600.

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