Kaua‘i search and rescue team honored after hunter found

The Kaua‘i County Council yesterday honored Francis “Bully” Mission, the entire Kaua‘i search and rescue team and volunteers for their “immeasurable dedication, courageousness and remarkable team effort” in successfully locating missing hunter Cody Kimura.

The 21-year-old Lihu‘e resident was separated from his hunting party in Koke‘e on July 19.

After spending more than 48 hours missing in the high altitude forests of the Westside state park, a search party of some 85 people found Kimura cold and dehydrated but unharmed.

Mission, who works for the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, headed the rescue effort.

“It was a happy ending,” he said.

Kimura, fighting back his emotions, said knowing everyone was out there looking for him helped get him through the ordeal.

“It gives all of us such reassurance to know we have such competent teams,” Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura said. “It’s the love of family and of each other that comes through in this.”

Kimura, who noted he is deathly afraid of the dark, said he just kept moving down the river which he knew would lead to the ocean.

“It was nothing that I could’ve prepared for,” he said. “Everything came naturally. My body knew what I had to do to stay warm … what to eat, to drink.”

Kimura said he fought through all the pulled muscles and twisted ankles and “head stuff” with the thought of his mom in mind.

“Somehow I made it out,” he said.

Kimura’s parents and Mission’s parents attended the morning ceremony in Council Chambers at the Historic County Building.

Councilman Mel Rapozo said the certificate is probably the best he has ever given in his career on the council.

“Bully went above and beyond the call of duty in trying to find Cody,” the council certificate states. “While always keeping the safety of the search and rescue team and many volunteers at the forefront, Bully’s excellent organizational skills and unmatched professionalism helped the operation run smoothly and efficiently. His calm yet compassionate demeanor comforted Cody’s family and gave them faith that Cody would be found safely.”

Kimura, who was goat hunting with his brother and a friend, was reported missing after attempts to find him by his hunting party were unsuccessful.

“I realize Koke‘e is a beautiful place but it’s a dangerous place,” Rapozo said, adding jokingly that the council was thinking about nominating Kimura as a ‘Survivor’ candidate.

It was the first day of the feral goat-hunting season when the incident occurred and Kimura told the council he returned to the area to hunt again the following weekend.

The search included personnel from the Kaua‘i Fire Department, Kaua‘i Police Department, state Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement, the Kaua‘i Canine Team, aerial support from Inter-Island Helicopters Air-1, Windward Aviation, hunters and hikers familiar with the area and friends and family of Kimura.

“It was an islandwide effort,” Councilwoman Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho said.

Council Chair Jay Furfaro said there is a happy, thankful family because of Mission’s leadership.

“The Kaua‘i County Council extends its deepest gratitude to Bully for his exemplary leadership and the entire Kaua‘i search and rescue team and volunteers for bringing Cody home safely,” the certificate states. “He is a true hero to the Kimura family and has shown, as his name suggests, that there is no ‘mission impossible’ for Francis ‘Bully’ Mission.”

• Nathan Eagle, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 224) or neagle@kauaipubco.com

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