Still no signs of victim

Posted on Oct 29 2019

A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter searches yesterday for the occupant of a vehicle that plunged off Banzai Cliff last Saturday. Investigation remains ongoing. (MARC A. VENUS)

The third day of scouring Banzai Cliff came and went yesterday but the Department of Public Safety has yet to find a trace of the person who reportedly drove an SUV over the Marpi cliff line and into the sea last Saturday.

DPS, together with the Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services, the U.S. Coast Guard, and U.S Navy, searched both land and the sea in the area since Saturday and only found the vehicle on Sunday. But no body.

The vehicle was identified as a white, tinted, 2006-2012 Toyota RAV4 and the owner’s identity was not disclosed. Eyewitnesses stated that they saw a vehicle drive off the cliff line at Banzai Cliff late Saturday.

DPS denied rumors of a victim being found and that they’re just not releasing the name pending a next-of-kin notification.

On the first day of the search last Saturday, DPS officers noticed damage to World War II monuments and car parts around the cliff line. Officers also noticed items that appeared to be clothing and a bag drifting in the current.

DPS and DFEMS rescue boats were deployed and searched the area Saturday night, but were called off due to rough waters and it was already getting dark.

Search efforts continued on Sunday, with DPS divers twice scouring the waters off the cliff, while DPS and DFEMS rescue boats coordinated with the USCG and the U.S. Navy.

Banzai Cliff was closed off Sunday as DPS, DFEMS, USCG, and the U.S. Navy continued the search for the victim.

Rescue teams were able to retrieve the vehicle from the waters, but no victim was found inside it. The search was called off at 5pm Sunday, with no signs of the victim.

Search efforts were continued yesterday, with the DPS boats Impact and Zodiac 3 conducting the search with DPS’ Search and Rescue Unit. The search was conducted further north and toward Wing Beach, still with no victim found.

A video of items floating on the water—some clothing and a bag—surface on Facebook and other messaging applications last Saturday night. The case remains ongoing and searches will continue for a victim.

This incident is the second case of a vehicle driving off Banzai Cliff in two years. Back in 2017, a woman sat by the edge of Banzai Cliff in Marpi, got into her rented car, then drove off the cliff. Police managed to find her body and she was pronounced dead. She was later identified as Jilian He, 22, and was described as “a local Chinese female.”

Banzai Cliff was also the scene of massive suicides of Japanese and local residents jumping to their deaths at the close of World War II.

Marc Venus | Reporter
Marc Venus is the Saipan Tribune's public health and education reporter. He has an associate degree in Applied Sciences in Computer Applications and is working on his bachelor’s degree at the Northern Marianas College. Contact him at
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