DPS: Search continues for Honorio Ricky Encabo

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THE search continues for Honorio Ricky Encabo, 21, who was swept into the waters outside the infinity pool in As Teo, the Department of Public Safety said Tuesday.

On Facebook, however, local dive shop operator Harry Blalock stated that DPS did not conduct an underwater search for Encabo.

Blalock said  on Monday, Encabo’s girlfriend contacted him to help conduct a diving search for the missing Koblerville resident.

The victim’s girlfriend told Blalock that DPS was “not sending divers down and that she wanted a better search.”

Blalock said at the scene of the incident, “The police boat was in the water, but they were just snorkeling. I asked a couple of policemen on the cliff whether they had divers in the water; they said they were just getting ready to send a couple down. But as we watched we could see there were no divers, only snorkelers. I asked the policemen again if they were going to send divers, they said it didn't look like it. I asked them if I could come along on their boat today to at least do an underwater search.”

But he said he was not allowed to be on  the DPS boat.

Blalock said Encabo’s girlfriend  asked if he would still do a dive search if she could find a private boat. “I told her I would,” Blalock said.

When they arrived in the area Monday morning, he said, “There was only one private fishing boat on the surface —  no government boats or searchers yet.”

Blalock said he went to search at a cave first.

“There was horrible surge in the cave, but I did manage to look through it all — nothing. I then started a circular search pattern, looking underneath all the boulders and rocks in the area, but didn't find anything at all. Toward the end of my search I found a shredded swim suit in about 75 feet of water,” Blalock said.

When he surfaced, Blalock said, there was a Coastal Resources Management boat that had snorkelers in the water. “I took the swimsuit over to them and turned it in.”

The girlfriend positively identified the swimsuit as Encabo’s, Blalock added.

“Realizing there wasn't much point in continuing the search at that point, we got ready to head back. Just then a bigger boat from Fish & Wildlife showed up with a bunch of guys on it, but none of them appeared to be divers. I told them what I found and then we headed back —  still no sign of the police boat or any divers.”

In a statement on Tuesday, DPS said the call of a distressed swimmer that slipped and fell into the waters at the infinity pool in As Teo, was reported on Sunday, July 5, 2020, around 4:57 p.m.

Search teams from DPS and the Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services-Search and Rescue Unit conducted a cliff line search and on the water search, DPS said.

The search was later called off around 7:05 p.m. due to low light and to allow DFEMS and DPS personnel to make it back to the marina safely, DPS said.

On Monday, DPS said the U.S. Coast Guard deployed two choppers out of Guam to assist in the search. The Division of Fish & Wildlife also launched its boat to help assist in the search for Encabo.

Honorio Ricky Encabo

“At about 8:00 a.m., DFW and DPS made their way toward the waters outside the infinity pool and continued an area search while the DFEMS SARU conducted a cliff-line search. At about 4 p.m., one chopper returned to Guam to refuel as another military chopper made its way to continue the search by air.

“At about 4:29 p.m., DPS and DFEMS sent scuba divers to conduct a search near the entrance of the pool. At around 5:04 p.m., DPS and DFEMS divers recovered clothing that was later confirmed to belong to Encabo. Another piece of clothing was noticed by a rescue diver, but was unable to retrieve it due to the strong current pulling the piece of clothing further into an underwater cavern. At approximately 6 p.m., DPS and DFW boats made their way back to the marina.”

On Tuesday, DPS said, “Search teams on the water included, the USCG Sequoia vessel with their smaller vessel, DFW, Coastal Resources Management, the Commonwealth Ports Authority, a DPS jet-boat, and a personal vessel owned by a local fisherman. At about 9 a.m., a volunteer diver spotted and retrieved pieces of clothing and footwear from the entrance of the pool. Throughout the day DPS and DFEMS had multiple swimmers conducting a search on the water surface as other DPS and DFEMS divers conduct a search underwater throughout the area neighboring the infinity pool.”

DPS said it “would like to thank the public for their continued concern for Honorio Ricky Encabo, and would like to thank the numerous agencies and volunteers for their continued efforts of assisting in the search for Encabo. But the department would like to emphasize that we have never discouraged anyone from volunteering their time and effort in the search for Encabo. We remind volunteers of the dangers of the water and its conditions. At the end of the day, we would like all personnel to return home safely and all accounted for. Please call 911 anytime to report a crime or an emergency. Our officers are always here to help you.”

A student at Northern Marianas College and born on Saipan,  Encabo works for Saipan World Resort.  His mother is from Pohnpei while his father is from the Philippines.

A witness told Variety that Encabo was standing on the edge of a rock in the infinity pool area when he slipped and fell into the waters.

Two other individuals who were with Encabo encouraged him to stay where he was, but he tried to return back to the ledge where he fell the first time. A strong current then swept him underwater, a witness said.

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