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Search continues for Big Island fisherman missing after going overboard

mark knittle january 2023.jpg

Rescuers searched for a fifth day Thursday for a Big Island fisherman who went overboard from a boat after hooking a tuna over the weekend, authorities said.

Mark Knittle, 63, of Captain Cook, was fishing with a friend off Hōnaunau on the Big Island on Sunday morning when he hooked an ahi, or tuna, police said.

“The friend heard Knittle say, ‘The fish is huge,’ then saw Knittle go overboard into the water,” according to a police news release.

The friend tried to grab the line, but Knittle disappeared within seconds, the release said. The friend jumped in but couldn't see Knittle.

The Hawaiʻi County Fire Department was helping the Coast Guard search from the sea and air.

“Usually our incidents like this are along the coastlines. This is a different situation because it's out in the deep," said Darwin Okinaka, Hawaiʻi County Fire Department assistant chief of operations.

According to police, Knittle and his friend were 4 miles (6.4 kilometers) from the Hōnaunau Boat Ramp.

“If there's a fish that's actually pulling him around, you don't know where he could go," Okinaka said.

Ahi can weigh several hundred pounds. Police described Knittle as 5-foot-10, 185 pounds, with curly brown hair with a white mustache and beard.

Police ask that anyone with information call the police department’s non-emergency line at (808) 935-3311 or email Officer Melani Cline at melani.cline@hawaiicounty.gov.

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