Search off Molokini ends

The U.S. Coast Guard suspended its search at 1:25 p.m. Thursday for a 56-year-old Illinois man who went missing while snorkeling Tuesday evening near Molokini crater.

Paul Blackburn was last seen in distress while snorkeling with his son at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday. Crew members from the sailing vessel Gauguin notified the Coast Guard’s Honolulu Command Center of the missing man at 5:51 p.m., and a search-and-rescue operation was launched with the Coast Guard Cutter Ahi and an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Air Station Barbers Point.

The crew of a 45-foot Response Boat Medium from Coast Guard Station Maui also searched for the man, along with the county Fire Department’s Air One helicopter, a fireboat, county ocean safety officers and personnel from the Kaho’olawe Island Reserve Commission.

The Coast Guard’s search by air and sea covered 448 square miles, it reported.

“After exhaustive efforts, . . . it’s with a heavy heart that we suspend this search,” said Lt. Cmdr. Tim List, Sector Honolulu search-and-rescue mission coordinator. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the Blackburn family at this difficult time.”