Search suspended for missing diver off Kauai after crews find his gear

Local News

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Crews called off the search for 47-year-old Nelson Kupenes, of Waimea on Wednesday, June 23, after locating his floater, float line, two rubber slippers, two spearguns and weight belt.

The Kauai Police Department said Kupenes had not been located as of Wednesday.

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The Kauai Fire Department and Ocean Safety located the floater and float line about 25 to 30 yards from shore between Hanapēpē Bay and Wahiawa Bay. The area is just east of what is commonly known as Glass Beach, according to KPD.

Rescue divers were deployed and recovered the slippers, spearguns and weight belt with the assistance of KPD personnel and the U.S. Coast Guard.

“I want to thank all of the people and the agencies they represent for their assistance in this comprehensive operation. Everyone put in an incredible effort, and without the teamwork, we might not have been able to recover Nelson’s gear and hopefully bring some semblance of closure to his family and friends today.”

Investigative Services Bureau Assistant Chief Bryson Ponce

Kupenes was reported missing around 7:50 a.m. on Monday, June 21. He was last seen on Sunday, June 20, preparing for a dive at Glass Beach in ‘Ele‘ele, according to police.

Searches for Kupenes encompassed land and air between Hanapēpē Bay and Wahiawa Bay and covered over 900 nautical miles, police said.

The Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources and personnel aboard the Japan Coast Guard vessel Kojima also assisted in the search.

The active search for Kupenes was suspended Wednesday pending any new information.

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