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Crews still searching for Puna man swept away by flash flood

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Photography and story by Baron Sekiya | Hawaii 24/7

Hawaii County Fire Department crews spent a second day of searching for a missing Puna man swept away by a flash flood in Pepeekeo Sunday night.

The man, Ernesto Combes of Nanawale Estates, was searching for prawns with three others Sunday (July 10) when floodwaters came rushing down Kawainui Stream sweeping away two of the group. A 45 year-old woman swept into the floodwaters was able to cling to the rocky embankment before being helped to safety by bystanders but the 43 year-old Combes was not able to get out of the stream. The woman was taken to Hilo Medical Center for treatment and was released.

Ground crews, divers and a helicopter performed a search Sunday night until darkness fell and the search resumed at first light Monday (July 11). Family of the survivors of the flash flood said rescue crews found tabis (fishing shoes) downstream belonging to the Combes but nothing else was found. Firefighters are continuing their search efforts.

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