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Search ends for missing swimmer

KALIHIWAI — A large-scale effort to find a missing swimmer was suspended on Wednesday, the Kaua‘i Fire Department (KFD) said in a statement.

Jaren Asalele, 19, of American Samoa, was last seen on Saturday afternoon, Oct. 8, swimming at Kalihiwai Beach on the North Shore when he became distressed. A family member entered the water and attempted to help, but could not locate the teenager after he went under the water and did not resurface, the fire department said.

The incident touched off a four-day, multi-agency effort by air, land and sea with a team of rescuers that included KFD firefighters, Kaua‘i Police Department (KPD) and Ocean Safety Bureau personnel. The U.S. Coast Guard and Kaua‘i Search and Rescue personnel also assisted in the search.

Volunteers with Life’s Bridges, a grief counseling service, also assisted Asalele’s family throughout the search.

“We are extremely grateful for the effort of all agencies and individuals involved in the search for Jaren Asalele, especially during the rough surf conditions throughout the weekend,” said KFD Chief Michael Gibson in a statement.

“Everyone gave their best effort to locate Jaren, and we are very sad that we could not provide complete closure for his family. We extend our deepest condolences to his loved ones during this very difficult time.”

There were possible sightings of Asalele’s body earlier this week, which led to rescuers continuing their search efforts through Wednesday. But limited visibility and rough ocean conditions made locating and recovering the teenager’s body not possible.

“Our hearts go out to Jaren’s family and friends, especially those who have been with us these past few days helping tirelessly in the search,” said Bryson Ponce, KPD Investigative Services Bureau assistant chief, in a statement.

“These operations are never easy, and we wish the outcome would have turned out differently. But we truly appreciate everyone involved in our attempts to locate and bring Jaren home.”

The incident marks the 11th drowning in Kaua‘i in 2022.

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Wyatt Haupt Jr., editor, can be reached at 808-245-0457 or whaupt@thegardenisland.com.
Source: The Garden Island

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