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Search suspended for man free diving off Kauai

  • COURTESY KAUAI POLICE DEPARTMENT
                                Kauai Fire Department divers assisted in the search.

    COURTESY KAUAI POLICE DEPARTMENT

    Kauai Fire Department divers assisted in the search.

  • COURTESY KAUAI POLICE DEPARTMENT
                                Kauai Fire Department divers assisted in the search.

    COURTESY KAUAI POLICE DEPARTMENT

    Kauai Fire Department divers assisted in the search.

The U.S. Coast Guard has suspended its active search a 47-year-old man who went missing off of Kauai while freediving Monday morning, although some of his gear was recovered.

The Kauai Police Department on Monday reported to Sector Honolulu watchstanders that Nelson Kupenes did not return to shore and that his car remained in a parking lot at Glass Beach, and several agencies had been searching for him since.

“Since Monday our crews have worked closely with Kauai first responders and Japan Coast Guard conducting 38 searches over 902 square nautical miles, amounting to over 83 hours on scene,” said Chief Petty Officer David Kissell, a search and rescue mission coordinator for Coast Guard District 14, in a statement. “During that time Kauai first responders were able to locate some of Mr Kupenes’ fishing gear adrift in the water. While it is a difficult decision to make, we suspended the search after sunset today pending any new information.”

The Kauai Fire Department assisted in the search by land, air and water, and reported today that personnel found Kupenes’ diving equipment, a floater and a float line, about 25-30 yards off shore between Hanapepe Bay and Wahiawa Bay, just east of Glass Beach.

KFD rescue divers, along with assistance from KPD and the Coast Guard, were also able to recover two rubber slippers, two spearguns and a weight belt.

The state Department of Land and Natural Resources and a Japanese Coast Guard vessel also assisted in the search for Kupenes, but he remains missing.

“I want to thank all of the people and the agencies they represent for their assistance in this comprehensive operation,” said Investigative Services Bureau Assistant Chief Bryson Ponce in a statement. “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.”

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