Search for man enters 3rd day

Victim was taking pictures on ‘tabletop’ when rogue wave pulled him out to sea

Rough waters surround the famous “tabletop” at the secluded Hidden Beach in Talafofo. Kil Jun Min, a local dive shop employee, was taking photos on the tabletop when a wave struck him and pulled him out to sea last Tuesday afternoon. The search for Min is now on its third day today, Thursday. (Derek Gersonde)

Search and rescue operations have been ongoing since Tuesday afternoon for a dive shop employee who was hit by a huge wave and dragged into rough waters at the secluded Hidden Beach in Talafofo.

Acting police spokesman Lt. Jason Tarkong identified the victim yesterday as Kil Jun Min, a 35-year-old Korean national.

Tarkong said that Min is employed at a local dive shop and is described as about 5’9” tall and weighed about 185 to 200 lbs. He was wearing a blue shirt and blue pair of shorts when the incident happened.

Yesterday’s search failed to find Min. Department of Public Safety Commissioner Robert Guerrero told Saipan Tribune last night that a rescue boat will resume the search today, Thursday, at 6:30am.

A command post has been erected at the parking lot of the Kingfisher Golf Course.

The road leading to Hidden Beach is narrow and rough.

Members of the DPS Boating Safety Unit and Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services Search and Rescue Unit continued the search on land and sea at 5:30am. A U.S. Coast Guard and Navy helicopter assisted in the search.

Tarkong said police responded on Tuesday at 3:31pm to a possible drowning incident at Hidden Beach, north of the Kingfisher Golf Course in Talafofo.

Police learned from witnesses that Min was taking pictures on a “tabletop” when a large wave pulled him into the rough waters.

The DPS Boating Safety Unit, along with DFEMS first responders, confirmed the information with several witnesses.

Tarkong said that Min was last seen floating in the waters east of the beach.

DPS launched a rescue boat, assisted by the DFEMS Search and Rescue Unit and a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter.

The search stopped Tuesday at 7:44pm and resumed yesterday.

DFEMS spokesman Derek Gersonde said that a DFEMS rescue team from the Susupe Fire Station responded to the beach and did a cliff line search and only stopped on Tuesday when it was getting dark.

DFEMS SARU members did a cliff line search yesterday.

If the rescue team fails to find Min, he would be the 11th ocean/beach, swimming pool drowning victim this year on Saipan, according to Saipan Tribune records.

Last Oct. 1, a 70-year-old Asian woman reportedly drowned while swimming in the swim zone at the Saipan World Resort beach in Susupe.

Last Oct. 25, a 25-year-old Asian woman was taken to the hospital after eyewitnesses found her floating motionless in a swimming pool at a residence in San Vicente. The woman passed away the following day. Saipan Tribune learned from news articles in China that the victim was Jovie Liu Youling, a cosplay model.

Last Sept. 27, divers recovered the body of a 27-year-old Asian male who was reported missing a day before after spearfishing outside the reef of Pak Pak Beach in San Antonio. The victim was transported to the hospital, where Dr. Neda Farzan pronounced him dead due to drowning.

Last Sept. 17, DFEMS swimmers found the body of 21-year-old Aiwayne Sagun, who was reported missing after he went swimming, but was pulled to the ocean by the strong current at Bird Island in Marpi a day before.

Last Aug. 29, a 33-year-old Korean woman drowned when she and her brother got swept to sea while swimming outside the reef at Obyan Beach south of the Francisco C. Ada-Saipan International Airport. The brother survived by swimming back inside the reef.

Last July 16, a 26-year-old man who went fishing with a companion was later found dead, believed to be due to drowning, in the ocean near the Gov. Eloy S. Inos Peace Park in Puerto Rico, Saipan.

Last June 13, a 15-year-old Korean male student reportedly drowned while spearfishing at Sugar Dock in Chalan Kanoa. DFEMS and DPS Boating Section Unit personnel found the boy’s body floating in the channel.

Last May 4, a 71-year-old Korean man drowned while swimming at the beach of Kensington Hotel in San Roque, while a 50-year-old Japanese man also drowned while scuba diving at Laulau Bay.

Last Jan. 26, 53-year-old Isidro Wabol was found dead outside the reef at Sugar Dock in Chalan Kanoa.

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Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a veteran journalist who has covered all news beats in the CNMI. Born in Lilo-an, Cebu City in the Philippines, De la Torre graduated from the University of Santo Tomas with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He is a recipient of many commendations and awards, including the CNMI Judiciary’s prestigious Justice Award for his over 10 years of reporting on the judiciary’s proceedings and decisions. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@saipantribune.com

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