Family of Missing Maui Man, Noah “Kekai” Mina, Continues Search
By Wendy Osher
The search for 35-year-old Noah “Kekai” Mina continues in the West Maui Mountains along the Kapilau Ridge in ʻĪao Valley. Mina has been missing now since May 20, 2019. In a live interview with Mina’s parents Vincent and Irene Mina on Tuesday afternoon, we received an update on the progress of search efforts.
This morning, Vincent Mina went up on an air search with Windward Aviation aboard a helicopter equipped with infrared sensors. “So that’s why we went up at first light, before the sun rises, to be able to detect any heat that’s coming from the mountain, which would translate into animals, humans… We found basically heat that was representative of goats and birds. Also, if in fact there is a deceased person up there, decomposing, heat still comes off of that,” said Vincent Mina.
Vincent Mina said the the helicopter “went up and down,” and “scoured the ravines.” He said, “There was one place that Noah/Kekai we know hiked to that there was a disturbance that occurred. In that disturbance, it was about 10-15 feet down. Don Shearer (the pilot) put us right next to the wall, it was amazing–this man’s ability to put us in a place where we could see what we were looking at.”
“It looks to me as though if it was Kekai, that he scrambled back up and was able to catch himself and scramble back up, because below that, there’s no disturbance,” said Vincent Mina.
According to Vincient Mina, search crews went down into the ravines. Personnel from both the Maui police and Fire departments “put people inside of the plunge pools because they drew/triangulated where the path would be if in fact he went all the way down, and they didn’t find anything there either,” he said.
“There’s no water up there,” said Vincent Mina. Earlier in the search crews found the missing man’s slippers at around the 2500 foot level. At the suggestion of firefighters, crews left water and food at the site, but checks of the area show nothing has been disturbed or taken since.
In Monday’s air search, Javier Cantellops assisted. He’s one of the search leaders who helped to find Amanda Eller, who had been missing on Maui for 17 days before she was found on Friday (May 24, 2019) in a deep ravine in Haʻikū. Crews had intended to conduct a rappel mission in the West Maui Mountains for Kekai, but when they assessed the area on Monday, they determined that would not be the best course of action.
“I don’t feel Kekai is up there… we feel he made his way down somewhere and is lost in the forested area, seeking water. Our hope is that he finds water, gets to a stream bed, and we’re looking at having dogs and drones (people have come forward who are FAA certified) to help with the search efforts,” said Vincent Mina.
Both Vincent and Irene Mina confirmed that there was no note left prior to Noah/Kekai’s disappearance.
Noah/Kekai’s mom, Irene Mina offered thanks and asked for continued prayers for her son. “We’re going to stay positive and we thank all of the supporters, rescue crew, family, news media, thank you for the prayers, everyone who donated to the GoFundMe. Just thank you for the prayers. Keep it coming. That’s what we want to do, is just bring Kekai home. All of you out there who are going to continue to pray for my son and hope and love and faith–that’s what’s going to bring him home. So thank you,” said Irene Mina.
As of Tuesday afternoon, May 28, 2019, $56,204 had been raised toward a goal of $100,000 to support search efforts. Over the weekend, organizers had indicated that the air search alone would cost $1,200 per hour.
“The reality of it is that’s how much things cost, but he’s worth it,” said Vincent Mina.
“He loves nature, he loves Nahe his dog, he loves his girlfriend. He’s very healthy, he’s very physically fit, he’s got a great sense of navigation as far as knowing what he wants in life. He’s stubborn. He’s got a strong, hard head,” said Irene Mina, who was born in ʻĪao Valley. “This is home to him.”
“He’s got an amazing work ethic,” said Vincent Mina of his son. “I expect he is somewhere, hunkered down, gaining strength. He just wants to find water at this point. Maybe he already has, and that would be a wonderful thing, because eight days is eight days. You gotta have water to hydrate in this type of environment,” said Vincent Mina.
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.
Mayor Victorino asks for prayers for safe return of missing hiker
Mayor Michael Victorino and First Lady Joycelyn Victorino are asking Maui County residents to join them in praying for the safe return of missing hiker Noah “Kekai” Mina.
“We pray that Noah will return safely to his family and friends,” Mayor Victorino said. “We thank everyone searching for Noah, including our Maui police and firefighters who are doing everything in their power to bring him home safely.”
The Mina family has started a GoFundMe page to fund their efforts to bring Noah home. The page can be found at www.gofundme.com/kahea-kekai-home, or see the “Bring Kekai Home” Facebook page.