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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, July 13, 2008

Body of diver found off Waikiki

Photo gallery: Celebrations by Sergio Goes

By John Windrow
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Sergio Goes

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Friends and family yesterday mourned award-winning photographer Sergio Goes, whose body was recovered yesterday morning by a U.S. Coast Guard cutter after he was last seen free-diving with four companions in waters about a mile and a half off Waikiki.

"He was a great photographer. He touched a lot of people's lives," said his good friend, Raul Torres de Sa. "An excellent guy."

Goes had been missing since 3:40 p.m. Friday.

The patrol boat Galveston Island recovered the body before noon. The 110-foot vessel was on the last leg of a six-hour search when a lookout on the bridge spotted the body on the surface of the water, about 6 miles south-southwest of Waikiki.

"They were free diving and checking on each other," Torres de Sa said. "He wanted to take a couple of pictures underwater. He went down and all of a sudden, he disappeared."

Goes, 44, an acclaimed filmmaker and photographer, was originally from Brazil, but had lived in Hawai'i since about 1990, Torres de Sa said.

Goes won a first place award Friday night from the Society of Professional Journalists for his photo essay "Celebrations" for Honolulu Magazine.

The magazine's editor Kam Napier said of the photo essay: "He spent a year photographing the celebrations we all experience together—weddings and bon dances, high school reunions and Chinese New Years, baby lu'au and even memorial services — and brought back images that helped see these familiar ceremonies in a new light. These photos show his talent for catching people in a moment of unguarded exuberance, living life fully.

"Sergio did the same himself, living life fully. He was a founding partner of the Hotel Street nightclub Next Door and a co-founder of the Cinema Paradise Independent Film Festival. He also taught photography through the UH Outreach College, passing along his gift for the art."

Goes also did exceptional work for Hana Hou, the Hawaiian Airlines in-flight magazine, said editor Michael Shapiro, who was busy putting together a memorial page in honor of Goes yesterday for the August issue.

"He won many awards for us in the past," Shapiro said. "He was one of the most outgoing and positive people I ever met."

People who knew Goes described him yesterday as a dedicated artist, an exceptional athlete and a man who brought a great passion to everything he did.

According to the Web site about Hana Hou, Goes' work has been published and exhibited at shows at the Whitney Museum of American Art, the London Biennial, the Honolulu Academy of Arts and The Contemporary Museum. He also produced the award-winning documentary "Black Picket Fence."

Torres de Sa's sister Andrea, an artist, dancer and acrobat, is Goes' ex-wife. They have a 6-year-old son. She was on Maui at a performance when Goes disappeared off Waikiki Friday.

Torres de Sa said, "My sons, who are 7 and 9, were best friends with his son, who is 6. They played together every weekend."

Torres de Sa and Goes went to the same school in Sao Paulo. When Torres de Sa came to this country, they lived together in Los Angeles, then moved to Hawai'i.

"He took photos from airplanes, ultralights, helicopters," he said. "He did sports, the arts, theater, underwater. He was adventurous, but not reckless."

Goes was an exceptional athlete who competed in the Ironman Triathlon in Kona, his friends said.

Shapiro said he and Goes went to a free-diving workshop at Kona on the Big Island in March 2008. "He could hold a breath for five minutes and 45 seconds and dive past 100 feet," he said.

The August issue of Hana Hou will include a feature about the workshop with photos by Goes.

"That issue is going to press right now, and we are adding a memorial page to honor him," Shapiro said.

Julia Steele, editor at large of Hana Hou, said, "Sergio was so daring, so brave, so engaged with the act of creating his images."

"He had this incredible vitality in his approach to life, his sensibility to life. He used photography to translate and capture that sense of vitality, that view of the world."

Referring to the circumstances of his death, free diving to take underwater photos, Steele said, "Sergio was always doing things like that."

She spoke about a piece he did on channel swimmers, people who were swimming between Moloka'i and O'ahu. Goes was in a boat accompanying the swimmers, she said, and he dived "way, way, way" below them so he could photograph "two small bodies in this wide blue ocean."

The wide blue ocean was where he was found yesterday, at 11:03 a.m.

Services are pending.

Reach John Windrow at jwindrow@honoluluadvertiser.com.