A rescue helicopter hovered yesterday as a capsized boat was pushed ashore by two firefighters at Ala Moana Beach Park.

Fishing trip turns tragic

Roy Okamoto and Mark Cameron
both loved fishing and coaching

Family and friends of the two men whose bodies were found off Kewalo Basin yesterday morning say they loved fishing and coaching children in sports.

Roy S. Okamoto, a 54-year-old city recreation aide at the Ala Wai Golf Course Clubhouse, planned to retire next year and live out his dream. "His dream was to go to the Big Island, where he owned some property, and build a cottage and go fishing every day," said longtime friend Ellie Jones.

Surfers found the bodies of Okamoto and fishing buddy Mark Cameron, 44, shortly before 6:45 a.m. yesterday about 100 yards off Kewalo Basin Park. Surfers brought in the first body on a longboard, and fire rescuers recovered the second.

It was not until 7:30 a.m. that fire officials received another call from a surfer that a Boston whaler was found capsized on the reef about 300 yards off Ala Moana Beach Park.

Fire rescue crews used surfboards, a helicopter and a boat, while Coast Guard rescue crews in boats continued to search for a reported third body.

Fire officials called off the search about 10:30 a.m. after Okamoto's family and friends could not confirm that there was a third person with the two fishermen.

Police said the witnesses may have mistaken debris for a body.

Using the boat's registration number, the owner was tracked to a Kaimuki address, and someone there said Okamoto and another man picked up the boat 4 p.m. Thursday to go fishing.

Okamoto's truck and boat trailer were found at the Ala Wai Boat Harbor.

Police believe the men may have been injured when the boat capsized. They do not suspect foul play.

Okamoto, a 32-year veteran of the city Parks and Recreation Department, spent most of his career at Kaimuki Recreation Center as gym director, where he worked with Jones for 15 years.

"I've known that boy since he was 25," said Jones. "He was such a terrific coach. He knew his sports. He was terrific with the kids and people in general, always laughing and cracking jokes."

"He was very well liked by the staff," said Marcia Mitchell, supervisor at Kaimuki.

Cameron had also worked part time with Okamoto at Kaimuki Recreation Center.

Reginald Cameron said his nephew Mark, who lived with an aunt in Kaimuki, "loved to fish and was great with kids."

His nephew was often helping kids at Paki Playground, he said.

Mark Cameron worked for Hawaiian Air Lines for about 20 years and frequently flew to the neighbor islands, particularly Molokai to fish with friends, his uncle said.

Fire and police crews worked to turn over the 12-foot Boston whaler at the water's edge.

Okamoto, a 1968 graduate of Kalani High School, where he lettered in football and track and was captain of Kalani's first soccer team, wanted to enlist in the Marines, but a disease prevented him from doing so.

In a 1995 Star-Bulletin interview, Okamoto revealed how he overcame the hardships of living with Tourette's syndrome, a neurological disorder characterized by involuntary muscular movements and obscene vocal expressions.

"When I was young, I tried to commit suicide because I had that disease," Okamoto told Star-Bulletin columnist Dave Reardon. Teachers did not know the disease was neurological, and one teacher would make him stay after school five minutes for every outburst.

Instead, he went to college, which allowed him to coach kids, something he enjoyed.

Okamoto coached basketball and volleyball for youths and adults. He was also a referee.

Although Okamoto was single and never had children of his own, he helped many youths, friends said.

"He coached my kids and my grandkids," Jones said.

"I like the kids," he said in 1995. "Sometimes it's like father-and-son relationships. Actually, I've been around so long, I'm starting to work with the sons of some of the kids from before."

Okamoto left Kaimuki as his disease progressed, and took positions elsewhere, which made it easier for him.

For the last year, he worked at the Ala Wai Golf Course Clubhouse as a recreation aide, doing custodial work and helping set up and open the second floor for events such as ballroom dancing, fencing and meetings.

Joan Ushijima, recreation director for the clubhouse's second floor, said Okamoto often went out of his way to help those who used the clubhouse. "He never had anything negative to say and always tried to be helpful."

Okamoto's sister said he lived in Kaimuki with their parents.

Neighbor Paul Igawa said Okamoto often went out with Cameron to Maunalua Bay and did mostly near-shore fishing, and noticed the boat gone yesterday afternoon. "This morning, I looked, the boat wasn't there," Igawa said yesterday. "I thought something must have happened."



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