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‘Help him come home’: Parents of UNL student missing in Hawaii asking for help

Updated: May. 31, 2021 at 6:57 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Parents of a University of Nebraska Lincoln student who has been missing in Hawaii since May 13 are asking for the public’s help sharing his photos.

Samuel Martinez, 23, hasn’t been seen or heard from since he began his solo hiking and camping trip on the island of Kaua’i on May 13.

Samuel’s parents, Cherie and Ted Martinez, live in North Bend and said he left Omaha on May 12 for a 14-day solo trip, something they say he’s wanted to do for a long time.

“We weren’t able to have contact with him after the first day. We figured the service was bad and we lightly worried for a bit,” Ted Martinez said. “For 10 days, it built and built and built, and then he did not board his plane from Hawaii to LAX on the 25th. So the 26th, we were aware that he didn’t make it to Omaha.”

Extensive searches have been conducted by the Kaua’i Police Department and several other agencies.

--Nebraska man still missing after extensive land and air search operation-- KŌKE‘E – An extensive search operation...

Posted by Kaua'i Police Department on Sunday, May 30, 2021

Sam had an itinerary for his trip and received permits at several campsites in Kaua’i state parks. On May 13, police confirmed that Samuel was seen by another hiker while on his way to his first campsite.

“The gentleman said there was nothing out of the ordinary, Samuel shared with him that he hitchhiked across Kaua’i and hiked north up to the state park,” Ted said. “Which is what we thought he did,” Cherie added.

The two said they know he stopped at a grocery store to buy food before heading north into the state park.

“We have wanted every hour to go to Eppley to get on a plane to go to Kaua’i, however, what is best for Samuel is not his mother and father up in the mountains lost and launching a search party for us,” said Ted. “We’ve been professionally advised to stay here with family members and build the information and social media base and follow up with Kaua’i and help them by getting them information about Sam from his friends and his digital footprint.”

Ted and Cherie say they wanted to include photos of his camping gear in case anyone using the trails in Hawaii during the busy holiday weekend may spot it.

The family remains positive that Samuel has gotten lost or is attempting to help someone else who may be lost as well. Through community support and help in Nebraska and Hawaii, they’re positive their son will return home safely.

They said they’re eternally grateful for the help from Hawaii and Kaua’i authorities.

“Anyone who comes in contact with Samuel is going to have a friend, he’s going to treat them well and ask them if they need anything. He’s very approachable, when you see him he may need help. Help him come home and we pray that that happens.”

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