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Diving Accident Claims Life of Paramedic

A 26-year-old paramedic from Molokai died in a freediving accident last Saturday on the island’s west end. Steven “Keku” Likua went diving with friends off Kaiaka Rock at about 3 p.m. He was last seen an hour later, approximately 300 yards off shore, wearing a camouflage wet suit with fins, snorkel and mask, according to police. When the other divers emerged, Likua did not, and after searching the area, friends reported him missing. Local emergency responders got the call around 6:20 p.m., and notified the Coast Guard to join efforts.

After an extensive search of the shoreline Saturday night yielded no results, firefighters suspended the search at 9:30 p.m., according to the Maui Fire Department. Weather conditions were reported with winds at 23 mph and seas up to 8 feet.

At first light Sunday, crews began searching again. The Fire Department and Coast Guard, using airplane and helicopters, boats and ground crews, were joined in the search efforts by local residents, friends and family members.

Likua’s body was found by dive crews in the water off Kaiaka Point Sunday morning around 10:30 a.m. Additional details were not available as of Sunday, and police said the cause of his death is pending an autopsy.

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Keku Likua, left, and his dad Lyle on the job in 2012. Photo by Catherine Cluett

In 2012, at age 22, Likua became Maui County’s youngest parademic, joining his dad Lyle — an EMT and paramedic with 30 years’ service — working to help save lives in his community.

Likua graduated from Molokai High School in 2007, and shortly after, began rigorous training and education to pursue a career in emergency medical response. After becoming a licensed EMT, or emergency medical technician, he went on to become a certified paramedic to be qualified to provide more advanced procedures.

Originally stationed in Kahului, his first time filling a shift on Molokai was a proud day for his dad.

“[Many of us] have been here over 30 years, and we’re happy to see upcoming local young adults carry it on,” said Lyle during a 2012 interview.

Likua loved his job, and since then, achieved his goal of coming home to Molokai to serve the community he grew up in.

“I want to come to work every day,” he said in 2012. “Find something you love to do and pursue that goal.”

Friends called Likua an accomplished waterman who dived and surfed frequently. They said they will remember him for his kindness and infectious smile, many describing him as one of nicest people they’ve ever met.

The Maui Fire Department, Coast Guard and hundreds of family and friends have expressed their condolences.

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