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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted at 12:27 p.m., Tuesday, December 31, 2002

Hikers join search for missing man

By Rod Ohira
Advertiser Staff Writer

Two of four hikers who talked with a missing 78-year-old 'Aiea man late Sunday afternoon on the lookout ridge of Judd Trail in Nu'uanu were among the volunteers searching today for George Y. Morishima.

Members of George Morishima’s family look for the missing hiker in Nu‘uanu. From left: granddaughter Tara Lum, nephew Ed Morishima Jr. and family friend Colin Hirata. Hikers last saw Morishima on the lookout ridge of Judd Trail.

Richard Ambo • The Honolulu Advertiser

Ron Montanaro last saw Morishima taking the short-cut trail back down with darkness approaching at about 5:45 p.m. Sunday. The area is overgrown with brush but Morishima had a machete, Montanaro said.

"I think he'd still be around the top (of the ridge) if he slipped and fell," Montanaro said.

Dr. Russell Tabata, a dentist and a companion, saw Morishima twice on Sunday on the ridge, where they had set up a campsite. Tabata, who joined 10 Hawaiian Trails and Mountain Club volunteers in a search today, said Morishima told him he had been unsuccessful in his attempt to gather much edible bamboo shoots and fungus for traditional Japanese New Year's Day food dishes, such as nishime.

Morishima was not on the main trail but cutting through brush on an old trail, Tabata said. Morishima was headed back down on the old trail at about 6:30 p.m. when Tabata last saw him.

"He mentioned something about another trail and seemed confident he could get out," Tabata noted. "If we thought otherwise, we would have asked him to stay with us."

Morishima's family members huddled about 100 yards down from the official fire rescue/police staging area on Nu'uanu Pali Drive. Several relatives were planning to search on their own.

"He must have fallen somewhere and is probably hurt," said Arnold Morishima, the missing man's son. "He didn't have any water or food. He would have come out by now if he wasn't hurt."

Arnold Morishima said his father is independent and left for the hike Sunday without telling anyone where he was going. He only told a grandson that "he was going someplace far," Arnold Morishima said.

Concerned relatives went to Nu'uanu to look for George Mori-shima when he did not return home by nightfall, guessing that he might have gone hiking for bamboo shoots and fungus. George Morishima suffered a mild stroke recently but was in reasonably good health, Arnold Morishima said.

Mabel Kekina of the Hawaiian Trails and Mountain Club said volunteers assisting fire rescue specialists, police and state Department of Land & Natural Resources personnel, planned to start at the Nu'uanu Lookout today and work their way back toward Pauoa Flats and Tantalus.