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SEARCH ENDS FOR KIRK PASSMORE - His tragic story bears an urgent message

The U.S. Coast Guard suspended its search on Oahu's North Shore in Hawaii for missing surfer Kirk Passmore at sunset on Saturday.

According to friend and professional surfer Jamie Sterling, Passmore, 32, was an experienced big-wave surfer. He had paddled out to an outer reef near Alligator Rock, just south of Waimea Bay, where he caught a 20-foot wave and fell at the bottom. He was seen briefly before disappearing in the next set of waves.

The incident happened at approximately 11:30 a.m. HT on Wednesday. Spencer and other nearby surfers, as well as several people on jet skis, began a search immediately. Passmore's surfboard later washed to shore, with the leash plug torn out.

The Coast Guard searched through through Wednesday and Thursday nights for Passmore. With help from the Honolulu Fire Department and Ocean Safety, more than 2,330-square miles were covered by helicopter and boat before the search was called off.

"It is with heavy hearts that we now suspend our active search efforts," said Captain Shannon Gilreath, commanding officer for Coast Guard Sector Honolulu in a statement issued on Saturday. "Our thoughts go out to the Passmore family and the tight-knit communities in both Hawaii and California where he was an important member."

Passmore, originally from Carlsbad, Calif., lived in Haleiwa, on the North Shore, where he worked as a bartender at Banzai Sushi. He was also part-owner of the Third Stone Surf Shop in Waialua.

"He started coming to Hawaii when he was 14 and was an experienced and expert surfer," Passmore's family wrote in a post on the Brigham Young University-Hawaii website Thursday. "He was not new to big wave surfing, having surfed most of the well-known big wave locations."

Hawaii's KITV reported on Thursday evening that, though search efforts were ongoing at the time, 50 people had gathered for a memorial service in Haleiwa, where Passmore had been living.

KITV ran the video of Passmore's final wave, shot by filmer Larry Haynes. Haynes, a surf cinematographer who served as a water videographer for ESPN, sent the station the footage on the request of Passmore's father to share that last wave with the world.

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