Missing man had just surfed in Asia
A surfer who was last seen paddling toward Kaena Point on Tuesday had just returned to Oahu from an overseas surf trip, family and friends said yesterday.
Dustin Gabel, 36, returned Monday, picked up his paycheck at Mid-Pacific Mortgage, then apparently hit the surf again at Yokohama Bay the next day.
He was last seen paddling out by a city lifeguard at about 2:30 p.m. Police said the lifeguard did not think anything about it until the next day, when he noticed that Gabel's van was still parked by the beach.
"We checked the van. It was intact with keys in the ignition, and all his belongings still there," said Honolulu police spokesman Capt. Frank Fujii.
"Based on those unusual circumstances, a search was conducted (Wednesday and Thursday), no results," Fujii said.
Lifeguards said the surf conditions at Yokohama that day were not hazardous, although Gabel ran the risk, by heading toward Kaena Point, of being swept away in the treacherous Kauai Channel.
"It was flat to a foot (wave height), but you could get into the channel that runs between Kauai and Oahu if you got into deeper water," said Leeward District Ocean Safety Capt. Dwight Perkins. "But all that is speculation because no one knows what happened."
A Coast Guard Dolphin helicopter, C-130 Hercules aircraft and the Coast Guard Cutter Kiska searched the Yokohama Bay area and as far as 10 miles out into the Kauai Channel.
Gabel's stepfather, who lives in Southern California, said his stepson is an excellent swimmer who had just gotten back from a surf trip to Singapore and Japan before he disappeared.
Gabel's employer said that in the last year Gabel had spent less time at his job as a loan officer and more time taking surf trips, sometimes for a month or two. He traveled so much that he had his mail forwarded to the Mid-Pacific office and lived with friends instead of renting his own place.
"He just did not see the need to pay rent, since he was traveling so much," said Tony Behm, president and owner of Mid-Pacific Mortgage. "And he didn't spend a lot of time here.
"But he was a really nice guy, he cared about other people. ... That's one thing I saw whenever he spoke on the phone with clients."
Behm said Gabel sold his mo-ped business in Denver and moved to Hawaii in 2002, when he started working at Mid-Pacific.
Gabel is 6 feet tall, about 150 pounds, and has blond hair and hazel eyes. He was last seen wearing light-colored swim shorts and carrying a 9-foot-long white surfboard.
Anyone with information about this case is asked to call CrimeStoppers at 955-8300 or by dialing *CRIME on a cellular phone.