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Parents of missing UNL student Samuel Martinez speak out

Posted at 6:13 PM, May 31, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-31 22:02:06-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) - A student from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln is missing in Hawaii, and police are looking for your help.

Samuel Martinez flew to Kauai on May 12th to hike and camp on the island, but the 23-year-old missed his flight back home on May 25th.

Samuel's parents, Ted and Cherie Martinez, say they are feeling deep concern about the current situation. There's a missing person report for Samuel in Hawaii. All-day on Sunday there were 25 law enforcement members looking for their son.

"It's a lot of changes in the way we're feeling with different things that come in, but this family is incredible," Cherie said.

Ted and Cherie are holding onto family - and faith - in order to find Samuel.

Samuel Martinez
Samuel Martinez, a UNL student missing in Hawaii

"We believe in our heart of hearts, knowing Samuel as we do, that he is just as likely to be rescued and helping somebody else out of harm's way or they are injured as he is to be injured himself or lost," Ted said.

Kauai Police received information from a fellow hiker about Samuel. He was seen at the Kokee State Park campsite on May 13th. The hiker had a conversation with Samuel, and the witness said Samuel seemed well.

"There's been a call into the Kauai Police Department yesterday," Ted said. "A store clerk at a grocery store did see him, they pulled footage, we'll hear today if that was Samuel. He's pretty identifiable. We have photos of his gear because we have his Amazon account."

The Martinez family is confident in the search efforts since fellow campers are volunteering to help find him.

Missing UNL student Samuel Martinez

"It's just incredible because we never met, seen, any of these people. From what we hear about the island, it's just good people. We're just seeing that because people are dropping what they are doing and they are going to help us because we can't do it ourselves," Cherie said.

If Ted or Cherie could say anything to Samuel, it's to reassure him.

"I'm just telling him to listen for us, and there's people coming right now, and just be Samuel," Cherie said. "He's just the strongest mind and strongest kid I know. Have faith and we're coming to him."

Ted tells 3 News Now the search team will go out and use more technology and try to gain access through Verizon to Sam's cell phone and possible GPS location.

The police, fire department, civil air patrol and rangers used aerial assets and boots on the ground to search Sam's known campsite reservation locations. They've passed out fliers and talked to other hikers who might have seen Sam on the trails.