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Aerial search called off for UNL student missing in Hawaii; ground effort continues

Aerial search called off for UNL student missing in Hawaii; ground effort continues

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Samuel Martinez

Samuel Martinez

Search and rescue teams in Kauai on Tuesday resumed on-ground efforts to find a 23-year-old University of Nebraska-Lincoln senior who went missing in Hawaii. 

The Kauai Police Department announced Monday that the aerial search had been called off for Samuel Martinez, a microbiology student at UNL who traveled to Kauai alone on May 12 for two-week camping and hiking trip. 

Martinez's family hasn't heard from the student since a few hours after his flight landed on Kauai. He was reported missing to the Lincoln Police Department on May 27 after he did not arrive home as scheduled.

Investigators on the island say the last ping from Martinez's cellphone came around 8:20 p.m. May 12 near Waimea and Koke‘e state parks. Air and ground rescue teams from five Kauai-based agencies searched several beaches, trails, ridges and canyons in the region on Sunday and Monday. 

"We also haven’t encountered anyone who has accurately identified him and his whereabouts. At this point, there are several possibilities that could have taken place, especially on an island with dangerous terrain in places like Waimea Canyon and Koke‘e State Park trails, but we are still hoping for the best.”

Lincoln Police Department Office Erin Spilker said all reports relating to Martinez were forwarded to law enforcement in Kauai and that LPD "will continue to work with the Kauai Police Department should they request any further assistance."

Reach the writer at 402-473-7223 or


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