Hawaii Island police issue alert for missing free diver

Loren "Jamie" Salis

Hawaii Island police continue to search for a 55-year-old Hawi man who was reported missing.

Loren “Jamie” Salis was last seen diving in the ocean off Old Coast Guard Road on the night of Wednesday, Sept. 16.

He is described to be 5 feet 7 inches tall, 165 pounds with brown eyes and shoulder-length balding black hair.

Police ask anyone with information on his whereabouts to call the Police Department’s non-emergency line at 935-3311. Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call the islandwide Crime Stoppers number at 961-8300. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

You can also call the Coast Guard Sector Honolulu Command Center at 808-842-2600.

Watchstanders with the U.S. Coast Guard received a report at 2:40 a.m. Thursday from two friends who were diving with Salis. They last saw him at 10:30 p.m. Wednesday wearing a black wetsuit in the vicinity of North Kohala at the end of Old Coast Guard Road.

The Dolphin crew arrived on scene and located a submerged dive light, but it was undetermined if the diver was in the area of the light when it was sighted.

Hawaii County Fire Department divers have since recovered the light and a fishing spear, but the diver remains missing.

An MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point and the Cutter Ahi, as well as Hawaii County Fire Department dive teams, rescue boat and helicopter crews were all on the scene Friday.

On-scene assets Saturday conducted 22 sorties, searched approximately 3,000 square miles and deployed three self-locating datum marker buoys.

The U.S. Coast Guard suspended their search for Salis on Saturday, Sept. 19.

“The suspension of an active search and rescue case without definitive resolution is one of the most difficult decisions to make,” said Capt. Shannon Gilreath, commanding officer at Coast Guard Sector Honolulu. “We have saturated the area in an attempt to locate Mr. Salis but, pending further developments, we have decided to suspend the active search. Our prayers go out to the family.”

The disappearance of the diver does not appear to be connected to last week’s tsunami advisory as his disappearance took place several hours prior to the forecasted arrival of any earthquake-generated waves or currents.

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