Man falls into ocean fleeing police

Hawaii Island police are investigating an incident in which a man appears to have died in the ocean off the Puna coastline, the Hawaii Police Department said Monday.

At approximately 1:05 p.m., police responded to a reported “drop 911” call on Beach Road at the bottom of the Hawaiian Beaches subdivision in lower Puna. Upon their arrival, they located a group of adults when one of the males ran from them.

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The fleeing male headed for the ocean where there was a 15-20 foot cliff. Officers had a hold on him and tried to keep him from going over the edge, but he was able to get out of their grasp and make it to a ledge 5-10 feet below. Shortly after that, a large wave crashed against the side of the cliff and swept him into the ocean. He was observed by officers to be face down in the water and not moving for an extended period before disappearing from view.

Hawaii Fire Department personnel were immediately summoned and responded with a helicopter, boat and jet skis. The search for the male party continues.

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Detectives with the Area I Criminal Investigation Section are continuing this investigation classified as a public accident.

Anyone who may have information about this incident is asked to call the Police Department’s non-emergency line at 935-3311 or Detective Jesse Kerr at 961-2379 or jesse.kerr@hawaiicounty.gov.