Robby Gallagher, 31 year old surfer last seen in Hawaii, went missing during the height of the pandemic

Monday, November 15, 2021

This case just popped up on the news feed of my phone. I don't believe it's been posted here, so I thought I'd relay the information. Most of this post is taken from here:

Robby Gallagher grew up in San Diego. His father taught scuba diving and skippered boats. Robby had a natural love for the ocean, especially surfing. After graduating college with degrees in philosophy and business, he moved to Oahu. He returned to California in 2016 after his father died unexpectedly, but moved back to Hawaii before long.

In September 2020, months into the pandemic, Robby’s family began seeing a decline in his mental health. “The isolation really got to him,” his brother said. “For a while, he couldn’t even go out to body surf. I think it really messed with his mind.” Robby’s family attempted to get him help, but he declined, insisting that surfing was his therapy.

Robby's mother last spoke to her son on Halloween of 2020. To my knowledge, there is no information about their last conversation. It was the height of the pandemic, so it was difficult for the family to get to Robby. After waiting several days for COVID test results, Robby's mother was finally able to catch a flight to Hawaii on November 9. She discovered that Robby was last seen acting irrationally and local police stopped to help. They asked if he wanted a ride to the hospital and he said yes. So Robby was transported to Kahuku Medical Center on Oahu’s North Shore but left before being treated.

A few hours later, a woman reported seeing Robby attempting to open a door of a house near the medical center. He had dropped his bodysurfing fins. Robby's mother visited the house that Robby had been living in with roommates, but no one had seen or heard from him. His belongings were left behind. She later discovered his passport in his room at her home in San Diego.

Robby’s brother continued to call his cell phone. A few days after Robby’s disappearance, someone answered. It turned out to be a passerby who had found the phone on the side of the road in Wahiawa, about 20 miles from the medical center. The phone was given to Robby’s family, but there was nothing that gave them an idea of his whereabouts.

Cathy filed a missing person report with the Honolulu Police Department and tips of sightings began pouring in. Recently, however, the sightings have been few and far between. None confirmed to have been Robby. This November marks the one-year anniversary of Robby's disappearance.

Robby's mother, Cathy, has been to Hawaii four times since her son disappeared. She and Robby's brother, Brian, continue to spread the word and investigate leads. “We’ve become like our own investigators,” she said. “We have the help of a detective and private investigators, but we always feel like we need to do more.”

The family has also set up a Facebook group “Missing Person in Oahu: Robby Gallagher” in order to provide updates on the case, but also as a place where the public can submit tips. They stress that anyone who believes they have a sighting of Robby, should take a photo and immediately call 911. A cash reward is being offered for information that leads to finding Robby.

Cathy and Brian told Dateline that they are extremely thankful for the support of the Oahu community. “The amount of support we’ve received from the community of Oahu has just been incredible,” Brian said. “The kindness they’ve shown us, by offering to hang posters, give us a place to stay, make our meals, it’s been a light during this dark time.”

Brian adds that he doesn’t know what happened to his little brother, or if he’s even still alive, but said he intends to keep searching for as long as it takes. “There’s a chance he’s not here with us anymore,” Cathy said. “But we know he loves us, he knows we love him. I’ll keep praying he’s still alive. And just keep searching until we know otherwise.”

Robby is described as being 6’1” and weighs about 170 pounds. He has dark dirty blonde hair and blue eyes. He may now have a beard and long hair.

Anyone with information on Robby’s whereabouts should call Crime Stoppers at 808-955-8300. Tips may also be sent anonymously at or via the P3 Tips app.

One reason this case speaks to me is I know lots of people experienced mental health crises due to the isolation caused by the pandemic. It's something that I feel should be addressed more often. The obvious questions concerning this case are whether Robby is alive. If so, where is he? Could he have made it to the mainland? Is it most likely that he perished in the ocean that he loved?

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