A man found dead Tuesday in the waters off a western Hawaii beach park was the captain of a dive boat that had been reported missing earlier in the day by a crew member.
On Thursday, the US Coast Guard identified the man as Ryan Ta, 32, captain of the Moana Olapa, operated by dive boat company Big Island Divers.
Ta’s body was discovered just before noon on Tuesday by the Hawai’i Fire Department’s Chopper 2, about 30 yards offshore from Mahai’ula Beach Park.
A crew member of the 35ft Moana Olapa called the fire department at 11:18 a.m. to report that Ta was missing from the boat.
“A crew member on board reported last seeing the captain at approximately 9:30 a.m. before the crew member and passengers dived for approximately 40 minutes,” said Ryan Fisher, District 14 Public Affairs Specialist. from the US Coast Guard, to Big Island Now Thursday in an email. “After surfacing from the dive, the captain was not on board the vessel. The crew member and some of the passengers immediately began to search for the captain, but could not locate him.
The crew member’s call to the fire department regarding Ta’s disappearance came in at 11:18 a.m.
Fisher said observers from the Coast Guard’s Honolulu Sector Command Center hijacked a Dolphin 65 helicopter from Barbers Point Air Force Station on O’ahu and Fast Response Cutter William Hart to search for the missing captain. They also requested additional resources from the Hawaii Fire Department, which responded with five units, including Chopper 2, a rescue boat, and ground units.
At 11:59 a.m., a fire battalion commander informed sector command that Ta’s body had been located. Chopper 2 recovered the body and transported it to Honokōhau Small Craft Harbor, where the man was identified as the missing captain.
Kona patrol officers from the Hawaii Police Department at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday were tasked with assisting a coroner’s inquest at the Kona Community Hospital after it was reported that an unidentified male had been found unconscious in the water between the port of Honokōhau and the state of Kekaha Kai. Park, according to Hawaii Police Department public relations specialist Denise Laitinen on Wednesday.
Laitinen said the victim was transported to Kona Community Hospital from the port and later pronounced dead at the hospital.
The Coast Guard did not specify the number of crew or passengers on board the vessel at the time of the incident.
The Coast Guard Investigations Department is continuing its investigation.
Big Island Now contacted Big Island Divers for comment Thursday afternoon, but had heard nothing from the dive boat company as of this writing.