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Big Island man pulled from water off Maku'u Sea Cliffs dies at hospital

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One of the swimmers who was rescued off Maku'u Sea Cliffs on the Big Island, Sunday afternoon, has died, the Hawaii Police Department confirmed.

KEAAU, Hawaii (KITV4) -- One of the swimmers who was rescued off Maku'u Sea Cliffs on the Big Island, Sunday afternoon, has died, the Hawaii Police Department confirmed.

Police officers and firefighters on the Big Island were called out to rescue two men who were in distress in the water off Maku’u Point around 4:30 p.m. on Sunday.

Authorities later learned the men went spearfishing around 4 p.m. Twenty minutes into the excursion the victim, identified as 36-year-old Donald Gonzalez from Orchidland, began struggling. The other man tried to help Gonzalez but high surf made things difficult, police said. The other swimmer has only been identified as a 38-year-old man, who is a family member to Gonzalez.

When rescuers arrived to the area they first found the 38-year-old. He was not injured and refused medical attention. They then found Gonzalez floating face down and unresponsive.

Gonzalez was pulled from the water and then flown to Hilo Medical Center where he was pronounced dead at 5:09 p.m., police said.

The case remains under investigation. Authorities have ordered an autopsy to determine Gonzalez’s exact cause of death.

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Digital Content Manager

Matthew has been the digital content manager for KITV4 since September 2021. Matthew is a prolific writer, editor, and self-described "newsie" who's worked in television markets in Oklahoma, California, and Hawaii.

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