Search continues for missing hiker

WAIMEA – A U.S. Navy helicopter launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility this morning to search around the Waimea River from Koke’e to the ocean for a hiker reported missing yesterday.

State and county officials joined the search effort as well.

Mark Vetter, 39, here with a Catholic group from Texas, was dropped at the start of the Kukui Trail in Koke’e State Park at 6:30 a.m. yesterday, with a plan to hike the trail down to the river, then follow the river to the ocean, to be out by 4:30 p.m. yesterday.

Vetter hasn’t been seen, searchers fear, since he was dropped at the foot of the trail.

He is 5’10”, 165 pounds, with blond hair and blue eyes, last seen wearing khaki shorts, a light shirt, red bandana, brown hat and black day pack.

Information is being sought from anyone who may have seen Vetter yesterday, said Byron Fears, a friend of one of the Texas group who helped mobilize official and private search efforts this morning.

“He was planning just a day hike,” said Fears, who hopes anyone who may have seen him would contact Fears, 639-0626, and the Kaua’i Fire Department’s Waimea station, 338-1483.

Fire officials, learning that Vetter is not known to be impetuous, are searching under the assumption that he is injured.

Results of the PMRF air search will determine ground-search efforts, the KFD spokesman said.

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