WAILUA — The body of Joseph Medeiros, 58, of Lihu’e, was found around 4 p.m. yesterday afternoon after the boat he was piloting was found overturned in the Wailua River Friday afternoon.
He had left the Wailua Marina dock around 2:30 p.m. Friday to pick up coworkers with Kauai Builders, who were performing work at the Fern Grotto to make that popular visitor attraction compliant with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act.
According to a press release from county Public Information Officer Mary Daubert, members of search crews from the U.S. Coast Guard, Kaua’i Fire Department, Kaua’i Police Department, and state Department of Land and Natural Resources Divisison of Conservation and Resources Enforcement and Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation carefully searched on land and on the river from shore to shore, moving from around a quarter of a mile up the river from the mouth, in the vicinity of where the overturned Boston Whaler boat was discovered Friday afternoon, to a cove around three quarters of a mile upriver, where Medeiros’ body was found in a cove.
The Fern Grotto, in Wailua River State Park, is around 1.5 miles up-river.
An investigation has been launched to determine the cause of the accident, and an autopsy will be conducted to determine cause of death.
Search efforts, which in Friday also involved the use of a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter, were called off Friday at dark, and resumed yesterday at around 8:30 a.m., involving divers, boats in the water, and searchers on land, under the thought that Medeiros might have made it to shore injured and not able to make it to a point where he could be found by searchers.
United States Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Jennifer Johnson said that an aerial search Saturday with a helicopter was not likely to be productive due to lack of visibility.
Also at around 8:30 a.m. yesterday, officials closed the river to all non-emergency-vessel traffic, so the search could be conducted without interference, states the county press release.
KPD officers maintaining a perimeter around the DLNR command center established in the boat yard of Smith’s Motor Boat Service in the Wailua Marina were kept busy fielding questions from visitors, inquiring about, among other things, Fern Grotto tours.
Across the river at the Kaumuali’i boat-ramp area of Wailua River State Park, the boat-launch ramp was taped off as off limits, with police monitoring activity in the park while search operations continued.
- Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, may be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or firstname.lastname@example.org.