By JOHN BURNETT
Tribune-Herald staff writer
The Tribune-Herald has learned that a 67-year-old fisherman who became lost after falling off a 20-foot cliff into the ocean Sunday night at South Point is Roland Gacayan Sr. of Pahala.
Neither police nor fire rescuers have identified Gacayan, but news that he is the missing man spread through social media.
The Fire Department responded to an 8:46 p.m. alarm on Sunday evening, according to a written statement. Gacayan was last seen by other fishermen at South Point, also known as Ka Lae. Witnesses on the shoreline reportedly lost sight of Gacayan about 50 yards off shore due to darkness.
“Our crews are still out there,” Fire Battalion Chief Jerry Lum said early Tuesday evening. “… So far, we haven’t heard any word that they had found him or not, and if they don’t find him, we will be going out there (today) again.”
Fire Rescue, a county helicopter and a Coast Guard C-130 aircraft and Dolphin helicopter, and at least one National Guard Black Hawk helicopter took part in the search.
The Coast Guard will not search again today, Petty Officer Autumn Sherriff said Tuesday evening.
Gacayan is a Vietnam War veteran and a grandfather. His son, Roland Gacayan Jr. of Hilo, is a sergeant in the Hawaii Army National Guard who was deployed to the Middle East for his fourth tour of duty there in 2011.
“I’ve been in the same situation when I was in Vietnam,” Roland Gacayan Sr. told the Tribune-Herald in October 2011. “It stresses me out because I worry every day and night.”
The sergeant’s two sons, who are the missing man’s grandsons, were 9 and 11 at the time.
“They worry, too, because they want their father to be with them,” the elder Gacayan said. “I just worry that he’s back safe and comes home safe in one piece.”
Efforts to contact Gacayan’s family were unsuccessful.
“Thoughts and prayers to the ohana …” one poster wrote on Facebook.
Email John Burnett at firstname.lastname@example.org.