Coast Guard keeps up hunt for snorkeler

The U.S. Coast Guard continued searching Wednesday evening for a 56-year-old man, identified as Paul Blackburn of Illinois, who went missing while snorkeling Tuesday evening near Molokini crater.

The Coast Guard Cutter Ahi and an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Air Station Barbers Point were scheduled to search throughout the night, officials said. Wednesday’s search included a 45-foot Response Boat Medium crew from Coast Guard Station Maui, the Maui County Fire Department’s Air One helicopter and fireboat as well as county ocean safety officers and personnel from the Kaho’olawe Island Reserve Commission.

Blackburn had been snorkeling with his son when he was last seen in distress in the water at 5:30 p.m., Coast Guard officials said. He was wearing a white rash guard and board shorts, but he was not wearing a life jacket.

The sailing vessel Gauguin notified the Coast Guard’s Honolulu Command Center of the missing snorkeler at 5:51 p.m. Tuesday, and the Coast Guard began searching with assistance from the Maui Fire Department.

Mariners near Molokini were asked to keep a sharp eye out for the man and to report any sightings to the Coast Guard over VHF marine radio Channel 16 or to call officials at (808) 842-2600.