Carlsbad native presumed dead in surf off Oahu - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Carlsbad native presumed dead in surf off Oahu

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NORTH SHORE, Oahu (CBS 8/ KGMB) - The desperate search for a big wave surfer and Carlsbad native who vanished in dangerous conditions continued Thursday on the famous North Shore of Oahu.

Police have identified the missing man as Kirk Passmore, 32, who moved to Hawaii two years ago. Witnesses say Passmore was in the water with a group of surfers when he got into trouble after being hit by two large waves at a surf spot called Alligator Rock in Waimea Bay.

Witnesses said Passmore and another surfer both took off on a 20 foot wave, around 11:20 Wednesday morning, in one of the biggest sets of the day.

"He was seen swimming down with his feet up above the surface and we think he broke his ear drum because what happens when you break your ear drum is you have complete loss of balance and you have vertigo," Jamie Sterling told CBS News 8's affiliate KGMB. "So you have vertigo and he was swimming the opposite way and another wave came over him. So he had a two waves hold down. And after that we didn't see any more of him and we couldn't spot him."

When Passmore wiped out his surfboard broke apart and was later found farther down the beach, but the surfer has not been seen since. Other surfers and jetskiers rushed to his aid, but fellow surfers say he was the only surfer in the water who was not wearing a safety floatation vest.

"And they were trying to grab him but they had nothing to hold on to," said Chris Owens, who also searched for Passmore in the water immediately after he went under, according to KGMB. "You know like, everybody out there. See what would have saved him is if he had a float vest on. Everybody wears float vests nowadays."

Helicopters from the Coast Guard and the Honolulu Fire Department searched from the air while lifeguards patrolled the surf on jetskis looking for any trace of Passmore.

"Kirk was just one of those fun loving guys, loved to play around, but had a passion for surfing," Passmore's former surf team coach, Denny Cooper. told CNS News 8 on Thursday. "He was always serious about surfing. He wasn't a pro, but it turned into a passion, a life for him."

Passmore's business partner says he co-owns a surf shop on the North Shore. According to his social media pages, Passmore still has family in San Diego County. His father flew to Hawaii and was spotted on the beach obviously overcome with emotion.

Fellow surfers say Passmore, a Carlsbad High grad, was familiar with that particular break and he is experienced at riding big waves.

Lifeguards and firefighters called off their searches at sunset Wednesday, but the Coast Guard continued into the night using infrared goggles to scan the water.

Oahu's North Shore was under a High Surf Warning on Wednesday. Forecasters said waves reached heights of 25 to 35 feet.

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