Hawaii News

Search suspended for missing swimmer

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Rescuers and others who spent the past four days searching for 19-year-old American Samoa resident Jaren Asalele gather shortly after the search for the missing swimmer was officially suspended Wednesday afternoon. (Photos courtesy of the Kaua‘i Fire Department)
Jaren Asalele

The 19-year-old American Samoa resident who went missing this past weekend while swimming at a Kaua‘i beach has become the island’s 11th drowning victim of 2022.

The search for Jaren Asalele was suspended Wednesday.

“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,” Kaua‘i Police Department Investigative Services Bureau Assistant Chief Bryson Ponce said in a press release. “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.”


Asalele was last seen Saturday afternoon wearing orange swim shorts and swimming at Kalihiwai Beach on Kaua‘i’s North Shore when he became distressed, according to a preliminary report. A family member entered the water and attempted to help him, but could not locate the swimmer after he went under water and did not resurface.

There were possible sightings of Asalele’s body deep underwater and on the surface for brief moments Sunday and Monday. These sightings led officials to extend their search efforts through Wednesday. Ultimately, however, because of limited visibility and rough ocean conditions, Asalele could not be located and recovered. The search was officially suspended at noon Wednesday, pending any new information.

The four-day multi-agency search was conducted via air, land and sea by a team of rescuers that included Kaua‘i firefighters, Ocean Safety Bureau officers, Kaua‘i police, the U.S. Coast Guard and volunteers from Kaua‘i Search and Rescue. Volunteers with Life’s Bridges, a grief counseling service, also assisted Asalele’s family throughout the search effort.


“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,” Kaua‘i Fire Chief Michael Gibson said in the press release. “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.”

Asalele was preparing to move to O‘ahu next year.

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