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University of Nebraska-Lincoln senior reported missing in Hawaii
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University of Nebraska-Lincoln senior reported missing in Hawaii

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Samuel Martinez

Samuel Martinez

A senior at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln has been reported missing after he did not return home May 25 as expected from a trip to Hawaii.

Samuel Joseph Martinez, a 23-year-old studying microbiology at UNL, flew to Kauai on May 12 with the intention of hiking and camping, according to a news release from the Kauai Police Department.

The student's father, Ted Martinez, said the family hasn't heard from Samuel since a few hours after he landed on Kauai. He had eight permits to camp at different locations around the island.

Ted Martinez said the family, which lives in North Bend, had hoped his son's lack of communication during his two-week trip was a result of poor connection.

He said the family filed a missing persons report with the Lincoln Police Department on Wednesday after Samuel missed his connecting flight in Los Angeles on Tuesday. LPD contacted law enforcement in Kauai on Thursday.

Ted Martinez said his son got a ride to a grocery store nearly 20 miles south of the airport in Kauai a few hours after he landed on the island, as he prepared to head toward mountainous campsites. The family has not heard from him since, Ted Martinez said.

"To his friends in Lincoln and his friends around the United States, please stay strong and pray for Samuel," Ted Martinez said in a phone interview Saturday.

Ted Martinez said Kauai law enforcement is expected to begin a search Sunday, and is asking hikers to keep an eye out for him.

The family is remaining hopeful as the search begins.

"It's just as likely that he's helping rescue somebody right now to get them out of harm's way, as it is as that he's lost or he's hurt," Ted Martinez said. "That's who Samuel is."

Reach the writer at 402-473-7223 or


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A Kansas City, Missouri, native, Andrew Wegley joined the Journal Star as breaking news reporter after graduating from Northwest Missouri State University in May 2021.

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