Missing boater has officials 'perplexed'


POSTED: Friday, December 04, 2009

Unusual circumstances surround the disappearance of a 58-year-old man whose rented boat was found going in circles north of Honokohau Harbor, a Big Island fire official said.

Fire Battalion Chief Gerald Kosaki said Samuel Bower had recently moved to Hawaii from Utah and was staying at a Waikiki hotel.

“;It's very peculiar what happened because he came over from Oahu, rented the boat and then went out with no fishing gear and no alcohol,”; Kosaki said. “;On the boat they found airline tickets to come to the Big Island and go back the same day, and he had no hotel reservations.”;

The boat was spotted by the owner's son going past Kahaluu Beach Park at 5:15 p.m. Wednesday; then someone from another boat saw the boat going in circles at 6:15 p.m. about three miles off the Kona Coast, Kosaki said. The search will continue this morning.

“;It looks like an unfortunate boating accident; that's what it's leading to right now,”; police Lt. Darren Horio said yesterday. “;We're perplexed.”;

The boat owner told authorities Bower was upbeat and that there was nothing out of the ordinary when he rented the 21-foot Triumph from Kona Boat Rentals at Honokohau Harbor.

He was last seen leaving alone at 10:30 a.m. and was to return at 5:30 p.m.

Bower told the owner he was taking the boat to Kealakekua Bay to meet friends. Investigators wish to speak with the friends.

Bower is 6 feet 3 inches tall, 225 pounds, with brown hair and blue eyes. He was wearing a black-and-gray rash guard and black shorts.

Fire crews conducted an aerial search yesterday from Kealakekua Bay to Upolu Point and by boat from Kealakekua Bay to Kona Airport, while the Coast Guard sent a patrol boat from Hilo and a helicopter crew.

Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Sean Smith at 326-4646, ext. 275, or the Coast Guard at 842-2600.