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Coast Guard launches search for one of its own

HONOLULU — A U.S. Coast Guardsman who performed ocean search and rescue missions is now the subject of a three-agency search.

The Coast Guard, fire department and police conducted aerial, shoreline and offshore searches Wednesday in the Kaena Point area for Petty Officer 1st Class Russell Matthews, 36, whose car was found at 8:30 p.m. Tuesday on the Mokuleia side of Kaena.

Matthews, an aviation survival technician stationed at Air Station Barbers Point Hawaii since 2007, was emotionally distraught, and his family and friends are concerned for his welfare, police said.

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The 15-year Coast Guard veteran was last seen driving his 2005 Subaru about 4:30 p.m. Tuesday in Pupukea, police said.

Chief Petty Officer Kurt Fredrickson, Coast Guard spokesman, said Matthews was part of a helicopter air crew and would enter the water to rescue people. He also helped maintain survival gear and was trained to provide treatment like an emergency medical technician.

“The big focus is our search,” Fredrickson said, adding that a total of 240 square miles around Kaena Point has been searched.

“We are also trying to provide support to the friends, family and co-workers because they’re affected as well,” he said.

The Coast Guard deployed an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew beginning at 4 a.m. Wednesday, and was scheduled to search through the night. It also used the Cutter Galveston Island. Police and fire departments used their helicopters for the search.

Fire personnel began searching at midnight Tuesday to 3 a.m. Wednesday, resumed at first light Wednesday, performing land and ocean searches, combing the west side from Kaena Point to Kalaeloa.

Surf at Kaena Point was 20 to 30 feet, with clear skies and calm winds Wednesday.

Matthews is described as Caucasian, 6 feet tall, weighing 165 pounds, with brown hair and blue eyes.

He was last seen wearing a T-shirt, surf shorts, a dark-colored hat and sunglasses.

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