N.J. Man Was on Trip with the 'Love of His Life' When He Was Swept Out to Sea in Hawaii

“Matt was 25 years old with his whole life in front of him," a family friend wrote of the photographer

Matthew Preziose
Matthew Preziose. Photo: Spotfund

A 25-year-old photographer and graphic designer from New Jersey is being remembered by his loved ones after he was swept out to sea while swimming in Hawaii over the weekend.

Matthew Preziose was vacationing with "his boyfriend and love of his life Nick" when tragedy struck on Saturday, according to an online fundraiser set up on behalf of his family.

Rescuers arrived at the scene around 1 p.m. after receiving a report that "two swimmers were in distress" in the water off Lumaha'i Beach, the Kaua'i Police Department said in a news release.

"Bystanders reported that one swimmer made it safely to shore while the second swimmer, Preziose, was last seen being swept out to sea," they added.

Three days after Preziose went missing, active search efforts were suspended.

"After a rescue attempt by Nick and an exhausting three day search, unfortunately, Matt was never found," the family friend wrote on the fundraising page.

"Matt was 25 years old with his whole life in front of him. A talented graphic designer and photographer, Matt was a free spirit who loved to travel and loved life," they continued. "Many people go through life with only a few close friends, but Matt was one of the rare individuals with a multitude of close friends who all loved him."

Reached for comment by the Daily Voice, his mother, Kimberly Branciforte Preziose, told the outlet she was "too distraught at this moment to put words together."

Matthew Preziose
Matthew Preziose. Kaua‘i Police Department

When authorities announced on Tuesday that they were suspending their active search for Preziose, they shared heartfelt thanks to his family and friends, several of whom "flew to the island to observe" their efforts.

"Our hearts go out to Matthew's family and friends during this difficult time," they wrote. "We thank them for their kindness and thoughtful expressions of gratitude and appreciation for the team effort in attempting to locate Matthew."

Police also shared that the conditions during the search required an "incredible effort."

"It is never easy conducting extensive search operations for missing swimmers during the winter season with dangerous surf conditions and strong currents, especially on Kauaʿi's North Shore," they wrote. "This was an incredible effort, and we are appreciative of everyone who was involved."

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In addition to sharing tributes and coming together to support his family, loved ones have been signing and sharing a petition. Created in his memory, the petition calls for signs to be posted near Lumaha'i Beach warning tourists about the potential dangers of swimming in the waters there.

"It could save lives and prevent another tragedy from occurring," reads a message on the page.

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