Friends and associates join search for missing kayaker


POSTED: Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Friends, family members and fellow Jehovah's Witnesses continued to search with fire and Coast Guard personnel for missing kayaker Russell Yoshida in North Shore waters.

The 53-year-old Waialua man did not return Monday evening from a solo fishing trip.

“;He's like a brother to me,”; said Josh Dela Cruz, 31, who flew in from Maui yesterday and went straight to the beach to help in the search. “;Everybody who knows him loves him.”;

Dela Cruz learned to dive and fish from Yoshida, as did his two brothers in the same waters off a Waialua beach where Yoshida was fishing Monday.

Yoshida's single kayak paddle turned up Monday night, but his kayak has not.

“;It's hopeful because they didn't find his kayak, so maybe he's hanging on,”; Dela Cruz's father, John, a longtime friend.

Yoshida was dressed in a T-shirt and surf shorts but had no flotation device, said fire Capt. Terry Seelig. Fire rescue personnel also recovered his fishing rod, bailer and drinking bottle.

The Fire Department continued its search until dark and was scheduled to resume at daybreak today, but a large swell was expected to arrive last night, which could hamper ocean searches, Seelig said.

;[Preview]  Search Continues for Missing Kayaker on Oahu's North Shore

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The Fire Department used its helicopter, a 25-foot boat, two personal watercraft and paddleboards in the search between the beach and the breakers, and also performed extensive coastline searches centered at Kaimanu Place, where Yoshida left his car.

The Coast Guard, using a C-130 Hercules aircraft, a rescue helicopter and a patrol boat, was expected to search until 2 a.m. today and resume at daybreak.

Yoshida, an active member of the Haleiwa congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses, went fishing at 3 p.m. Monday for oio to bring to a party for visiting convention delegates at the Puuiki Pavilion, steps from where he is thought to have launched his kayak.

Some Japanese convention delegates and members from the close-knit Haleiwa group and other congregations arrived at the beach yesterday.

“;We have this spiritual bond,”; said Carol Dela Cruz, John's wife. “;Once they heard, they came. We like to support our brotherhood.”;

Yoshida had taken his mother earlier Monday afternoon to see a video shown worldwide in which he is among those featured. In it he explains what he does and why, said friend Rick Kawahakui, spokesman for family members who declined to comment.

“;The mother is happy she went there to see what her son was active in,”; he said.

Yoshida single-handedly raised his daughter, now in her late 20s and recently married, Kawahakui said. She began searching early yesterday morning for her father.

Anyone with information of any sightings of a yellow kayak near Waialua is asked to call the Coast Guard at 842-2600.