Missing Seattle paddle boarder found safe off Ewa Beach

Local News

A missing paddle border was found safe off Ewa Beach Thursday morning.

Niel Bode, 32, from Seattle rented a standup paddle board in Waikiki around 3:45 p.m. Wednesday.

Bode was reported missing after he did not return when the paddle board rental company closed at 5:15 p.m. He left behind his wallet, keys and cell phone.

Fire department helicopters and the Coast Guard searched for him in the area off Kuhio Beach throughout the night.

Authorities say a MH-65 Dolphin helicopter rescue crew found him at about 6:45 a.m. Thursday morning about three miles off Ewa Beach. He had drifted about 10 miles from Waikiki.

“He saw us, noticed the helicopter, started waving to us and we started to put our rescue swimmer in the water,” said Lt. Wes Red Elk, U.S. Coast Guard pilot. “Our rescue swimmer swam out to him and confirmed he was okay and then we sent down a rescue basket.”

Bode was safely hoisted into the helicopter and transferred back to the air station. Emergency Medical Services personnel took him to the hospital. He was reported to be in good condition.

“He was cold. You could tell that instantly when he was inside the helicopter, and after speaking to him once we had him on deck, he was hungry. We had a couple of snacks with us since we had been up all night so we gave him granola bars and brought him some hot tea,” Elk said. “He had a smile on his face and he said thank you. It was good to see him grateful for that, but I’m really glad we were able to find him when we did.”

Authorities said Bode had lost his paddle and could not make his way back to shore.

“We were glad to find him in the time frame that we did,” said Elk. “It’s quite difficult to look for persons in the water at night, especially when they don’t have anything with them. So the fact that he had a paddle board with him… was definitely part of the fact that we could find him.”

In a statement, the Coast Guard said it strongly recommends that boaters and operators of any water craft carry personal emergency positioning indicating radio beacons and VHF marine radios when embarking in recreational water activities.

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