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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Monday, November 12, 2001

Search halted for woman missing off Sunset Beach

By Walter Wright
Advertiser Staff Writer

A search for a Massachusetts woman missing since Thursday off Sunset Beach was suspended by the Honolulu Fire Department at 3 p.m. yesterday.

Fire department spokesman Capt. Richard Soo said firefighters were able to cover a wide area with good visibility beginning at first light yesterday, but found no sign of 20-year-old Rachel Cardoza.

Cardoza was swept out to sea at about 1 p.m. Thursday when she was hit by a big wave in the first high surf of the season, with sets running as high as 25 feet.

Fire department divers were able to check a number of "garbage holes" where items lost offshore are often found, and the Air One helicopter searched all the way to Turtle Bay, with no sighting of the woman or any of her clothing, Soo said.

The search was suspended in accord with normal HFD protocol that calls for three 24-hour search periods. Chances of finding a body after 72 hours dwindle rapidly, Soo indicated.

Cardoza's family in Dartmouth, Mass., was notified.

She had come to Hawai'i with her 21-year-old boyfriend to attend Leeward Community College with him, and had been at an out-of-the-way spot on the beach off Ke Iki Road when the accident occurred. The boyfriend has returned to the Mainland, Soo said.

Soo said high-surf warnings were posted at the beach, but the spot where Cardoza was swept away was not near any operating lifeguard stations.