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Family fails to find missing son

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Posted: Thursday, December 9, 1999 12:00 am

KALALAU — Susan Pearson of Washington and Lloyd Pearson of California flew to

Kaua'i on a mission in late November to find their lost 22-year-old


But they gave up after they discovered his abandoned campsite in

Hanakapia'i Valley on Dec. 2 — the first day of a four-day search of the

Kalalau Trail.

Atticus Pearson of Clearwater, Wash., was last seen in

Hanalei last January.

Before his disappearance, he told his parents he

planned to hike to Kalalau Beach.

Susan Pearson, her daughter Isis, David

Parker, Pearson's uncle, and friends of Pearson also couldn't find any signs

of him on their 9-mile hike to Kalalau Beach.

On Dec. 5, the family

abandoned their search and concluded Pearson either drowned off Hanakapia'i

Beach or died after he injured himself on the trail and wasn't able to get


The family is planning to return to the Mainland today, but say they

will return to the island to remember him.

"He is here," Lloyd Pearson

said. "He is part of this island and this island is a part of our family."

In January, Atticus Pearson and a female companion flew from Clearwater,

Wash., to Kaua'i planning to stay two weeks, but, his mother said, her son

stayed longer because he fell in love with the island's lush beauty.


wanted to come to a tropical island like Kaua'i, to grow fruits and

vegetables," she said. "He was a very earthy person."


parents became worried when he didn't contact them for months.

In May, his

mother filed a missing person's report with the Kaua'i Police


The family, Lloyd Pearson said, didn't seek help any sooner

because they thought their son was not in any danger.

Kauai police say

they didn't initiate an investigation because there is no evidence Pearson's

disappearance is linked to a crime. Department of Land and Natural Resources

personnel searched the Na Pali Coast, but found no signs of him.

Air One

Helicopter also offered to conduct an aerial search, but the Pearsons declined

the offer after it became apparent Pearson was not likely to be found, said

Lloyd Pearson.

The Pearsons and other family members said only a letter

they received from Don Barmebey of Hanalei has given them any clue as to what

might have happened to their son.

Barmebey said he met Pearson at Polihale

Beach Park in early January and talked with him for three hours.


said he told Pearson about the different valleys and streams on the Na Pali

Coast and they parted company.

While in the Hanakapia'i Beach area in

March, Barmebey said he got a glimpse of a tarp that he later learned was part

of Pearson's campsite.

But he said he didn't stop to investigate because

he was in a hurry to leave the valley to get to town.

A month or so later,

Barmebey said he returned to Hanakapia'i and came across two hikers who had

come across the campsite Barmebey had seen in March.

He said he found a

tarp, hammock, blankets and a backpack at the campsite, which seemed to have

been abandoned.

He said he also found papers with Pearson's name on them

and a book that Pearson had with him at Polihale in January.

From what he

saw, Barmebey surmised Pearson had abandoned the camping goods and had

returned to the Mainland.

He salvaged the backpack, repaired it and used


It didn't dawn on him that Pearson might have gotten into trouble

along the coast until July, when he saw a missing person's poster of him at

Hanakapia'i and Kalalau beaches, he said.

Barmebey later met Christian

David, a friend of Pearson, on the trail and told him about the abandoned


In the letter, Barmebey speculated Pearson could have drowned.

Pearson camped near a stream during the rainy season, and could have been swept

out to sea by flashflooding, Barmebey said.

While searching for Pearson's

whereabouts in the valley, the Pearsons had hoped the female companion who

traveled with him to Kaua'i from Washington could help locate their son.

Pearson and the female buried their money and some clothes not far from

the start of the Hanakapia'i Trail before they started their hike, the Pearsons


Pearson's companion left the valley early and took her share, they

said, but Pearson's share of the money was untouched.

More than dozen

campers and Pearson's family celebrated Pearson's memory with a party at

Kalalau Beach on the night of Dec. 4.

Pearson stands 5 feet, 11 inches

tall, weighs 150 pounds, has blue eyes and long, brown hair he wears in a


Anyone who has seen him is asked to call his family at

1-888-218-7129, Kaua'i Realtor Sterling C. Chisholm at 635-0494 or 828-2156 or

Kaua'i Police Lt. Alvin Seto at 241-6711.

Anyone with information that

results in Pearson being found is eligible for a cash reward through the

CrimeStoppers Program, which is sponsored by the Kaua'i Chamber of Commerce and

administered by the Kaua'i police.

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