The U.S. Coast Guard has opened an internal investigation after a boater they assisted wound up dead.
The Coast Guard received a distress call from the master of the 30-foot sailing vessel Kolina Thursday afternoon, 20 miles south of Maui.
The 71-year-old man reported that his vessel was disabled and adrift.
USCG cutter Kiska was diverted to tow the vessel to shore.
Upon arrival, the crew instructed the boater to don his lifejacket, provided him a handheld radio, established a tow and began paying out line just before midnight.
During the towing, the Kiska crew lost communication with the mariner and saw that the mast had snapped.
Search crews eventually found the man dead, caught in rigging alongside the vessel.
“This is difficult. Anytime there’s any kind of life lost, I mean, this is our job being part of the Coast Guard is as lifesavers, so any kind of loss of life is always difficult,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Tara Molle.
The Coast Guard says there were rough seas, up to 10 feet with 35 mph winds, when the mast snapped.
The man’s name is not being released.