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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, May 23, 2010

Body of missing free diver found

Advertiser Staff

A diver was found dead off Ka'ena Point yesterday afternoon several hours after he had been reported missing.

County lifeguards on personal watercraft, search-ing along with firefighters and the U.S. Coast Guard, found the diver on the Waialua side of Ka'ena Point, said Honolulu Fire Department spokeswoman Debbi Eleneki.

Bryan Cheplic, spokes-man for the city's Emergency Services Department, said paramedics pronounced the man dead at 1:57 p.m.

His identity had not been released last night.

The man, believed to be in his 20s, had been free diving with another man.

Free diving comprises any number of breath-hold diving activities, from spear fishing to competitive apnea involving specialized equipment that allows divers to spend extended periods of time underwater.

Free diving has led to deaths on O'ahu before, including that of Sergio Goes. The local award-winning photographer died in a free-diving accident in 2008.

Even experienced free divers are at risk of blackout from oxygen deprivation. When that occurs, divers say survival can depend on luck and distance from the surface, or the presence of a diving partner.

Pat Johnson, owner of Deep Ecology, a North Shore dive shop, noted that conditions were windy yesterday.

"It's not a place we commercially take divers to. It's too unknown for commercial divers."

Yesterday's search began about 9 a.m., according to the Coast Guard.

Firefighters used their helicopter and boat to assist in the search.