Community Support Sought in Search for Noah “Kekai” Mina
By Wendy Osher
Facebook and GoFundMe accounts have been set up for a Maui man, Noah “Kekai” Mina, who has been missing for a week, since Monday, May 20, 2019.
The search has focused on the West Maui Mountains (Mauna Kahalawai) along the Kapilau Ridge in the area known as the St. Anthony Cross trail in the vicinity of ʻĪao Valley.
In a statement on May 24, family members said it was believed that Mina is, “seeking clarity, and he has turned to nature to find that safe haven.”
From the beginning the family has asked the public to refrain from hiking the area because of “treacherous and dangerous conditions.” In a new Facebook group, Bring Kekai Home, that was established over the weekend, organizers say community support is welcome to help fund helicopters for the ongoing air search.
On Sunday, the family reportedly met with rescuers involved with the successful return of Amanda Eller (the Maui woman was found on Friday, May 24, after being lost in the Makawao/Haʻikū forest for 17 days). That meeting also included input from Maui County Fire and Rescue and Maui police as organizers discuss their strategy moving forward.
“With the recent events surrounding the Amanda Eller missing persons case, and the miracle that she was found alive after so long alone, the Mina ʻohana has faith that Kekai will be found alive as well,” organizers wrote over the weekend in a Facebook update.
“The take away from the meeting is that this rescue is going to be accomplished by experienced people and helicopters,” according to an update posted on Sunday.
The group estimates that the cost of contracting a helicopter for the search is $1200 an hour. At last check, a GoFundMe account had raised $32,124 toward a new goal of $100,000 in an effort to fund the search.
On Sunday, Javier Cantellops, a leader in the search for Eller, provided an update on the search for Mina saying a flight was conducted over ʻĪao and the immediate area where evidence was seen. “[we] got a great lay of the land and [we] were able to do some line of sight search on some of the gulches and ravines,” Cantellops wrote.
He said a specialized team of professionals will be organized. He also described the terrain as extremely dangerous noting areas where the path is two feet wide with a straight 1800-foot drop off.
He said the plan going forward involves the use of aerial resources, skilled hikers, rappellers, FAA drone pilots and infrared assets as they become available. According to Cantellops, weather will be a major factor.
According to information posted on Friday, organizers of the GoFundMe page wrote, “There has been new tracks found by the ridges and we are convinced that our loving kāne (man) is out there needing the assistance to come back.”
Kekai is described as “extremely physically fit” and “an avid adventurer.” Organizers say, “His love for nature and the ʻāina (land) will keep him grounded until he is found.”
Monetary support is being accepted via the Bring Kekai Home GoFundMe account. Those wishing to contribute other resources are asked to send a private message or add a comment on the Bring Kekai Home Facebook Group.
Crimestoppers Tips may be called in anonymously to: 242-6966.