A deep-sea fisherman went missing on Sunday after a massive tuna pulled him overboard, sending him plunging headfirst into the bottomless depths of the Pacific.
At around 5 am, 63-year-old Mark Knittle of Captain Cook was fishing with a friend four miles from the Honaunau Boat Ramp in Hawaii when he hooked an enormous ahi. Turning to his friend, Knittle exclaimed, “This fish is huge!” before suddenly losing control of the sea giant, which yanked him over the edge of the boat and into the dark waters below.
Horrified by what he just witnessed, the friend scrambled to grab the line but missed. With no options left, the friend dove into the water after Knittle, but the deep-sea fisherman was nowhere in sight. “Knittle was seen on the surface and disappeared within seconds,” the Hawaii Police Department said. “The friend attempted to jump in after Knittle but could not see him anywhere.”
Back on the boat, the friend immediately called for help, and personnel from both the Hawaii Fire Department and Coast Guard rushed to the scene. Launching a continuous 72-hour search, rescue crews scoured the waters near Knittle’s disappearance.
Rescue Crews Found No Trace of Missing Deep-Sea Fisherman
According to Coast Guard officials, the search was expected to continue through Tuesday. The HFD assisted in the search by air and sea. Sadly, however, they have yet to find any trace of Knittle. The colossal ahi, known to grow up to 6 feet in length and exceed 400 pounds, could have dragged the deep-sea fisherman far from his anchored boat within moments.
“Usually, our incidents like this are along the coastlines. This is a different situation because it’s out in the deep,” said Darwin Okinaka, Hawaii County Fire Department assistant chief of operations. “If there’s a fish that’s actually pulling him around, you don’t know where he could go.”
Knittle is described as 5’10” tall and weighing approximately 185 pounds. He has curly brown hair with a white mustache and beard. The Hawaii Police Department urged anyone with information regarding the tragic incident to contact their non-emergency line at (808) 935-3311.
How Common Are Fishing Accidents?
Though fishing is largely regarded as a relaxing activity, the popular outdoor activity results in an alarming number of deaths. Every year, more than 100,000 people die in fishing-related accidents, according to a PEW study.
The problem isn’t solely among deep-sea fishermen, the study says. Fishing accidents are common on bodies of freshwater as well. The four most common accidents include: colliding, sinking, or capsizing; falls overboard; drowning; and hypothermia.
Those most susceptible to fishing accidents include commercial fishermen in Alaska and Massachusetts and those aged 25-34. Additionally, the shellfishing industry accounts for 30% more deaths than the finfishing industry.