Emergency responders and volunteers are searching for a missing Carteret County man on the Neusiok Trail in the Croatan National Forest southeast of Havelock.

HAVELOCK | Authorities converged Thursday on an area of the Croatan National Forest east of Havelock in an effort to find a missing Carteret County man.

Brian Matsumoto, 66, of Morehead City, was last spoken to by phone at 11:16 a.m. Wednesday, authorities said. Volunteers and members of multiple police and rescue units were involved in a search for him Thursday along the Neusiok Trail off Ferry Road, or N.C. 306, near Havelock.

When Matsumoto was reported missing, police were able to ping the GPS on his vehicle and find it near the trail.

Paul Unterweiser, of Swansboro, a friend for the last eight years, said Matsumoto had regularly hiked or biked the trail, a roughly 20-mile path that stretches from the Neuse River at the Pine Cliff Recreation Area in Craven County to Oyster Point on the Newport River in Carteret County.

Matsumoto, a native of Hawaii and a veteran, is retired from the U.S. Postal Service and enjoyed surfing the Crystal Coast beaches.

Lisa Pelletier-Harman, with the Buddy Pelletier Surfing Foundation, said that friends put out the call for volunteer searches at midnight and about 60 people had arrived by 9 a.m. Thursday to help.

“He moved over here to the mainland and just fit right in with our surfing community,” Pelletier-Harman said. “He’s a very laid back easy going fellow, very beloved fellow.”

Unterweiser said Matsumoto was one of the first paddleboarders in the area.

“All the surfers on the Crystal Coast know Brian,” said Unterweiser. “He’s a good guy. Everybody knows him.

“He could surf anything, shortboard, longboard, ankle high water, overhead and he was always having fun. We have a saying in the surfing community: Whoever wins is the surfer who has the most fun, and Brian always won every time he was out in the water. People would see him come and the whole vibe in the lineup would change. ... They used to call him ‘Brian the Hawaiian.’”

Pelletier-Harman said Matsumoto is married, and that his wife Linda stayed in the area overnight searching.

“She did not want to leave her husband. He has a son Brandon, who drove in from Georgia and he and his fiancé are also out there searching,” she said. “It’s tough on us. This is real personal for the surfing community.

“We rode up and down the road beeping in a rhythmic manner so that if he was not able to respond if he could hear he’d know we are out here. Keep fighting. We will find you.”

She said the couple would frequently come to the beach together.

“They are husband and wife but they are like best pals,” she said. “They really enjoy hanging out with each other and spending a lot of time together. That’s why this is hard for all of us that know him. We deserve a miracle because this guy deserves to be here. He’s not one who deserves to be lost.”

Pelletier-Harman said that Matsumoto had some medical issues and an adverse reaction to some medicine recently. He was scheduled to have surgery next week.

The search included authorities from Craven, Carteret and Pamlico counties, some on foot, some on horses and some on ATVs. A helicopter from the N.C. Highway Patrol was also in use.

Ira Whitford, of Craven County Emergency Services, said rescuers searched throughout Wednesday night and early Thursday morning. He said searchers are unaware of what direction Matsumoto may have taken.

"We're doing what is known as a bicycle wheel search and searching all the trails in the area," Whitford said.