Members of the skydiving community are saddened over the death of 58-year-old Robert “Rob” M. Nunes, who died in a solo skydiving accident Monday on Maui.
“Everybody loved him,” said longtime friend and fellow skydiver Mark Denny, who knew Nunes for more than 30 years. “He was like my little brother.”
Friends and family members said Nunes, of Wailuku, was a very experienced and skilled skydiver with more than 1,000 jumps. He was well respected in the skydiving community, said Cary Troxel, another longtime friend.
The skydiving accident occurred sometime before 3:10 p.m. Monday at Hana Airport. Maui police responded to the scene and performed lifesaving measures on Nunes. Medics arrived and took over with lifesaving treatment to no avail.
A police preliminary investigation revealed Nunes was on a solo skydiving jump and struck the ground upon landing. He was wearing his skydiving gear, a helmet and a deployed parachute.
Police are continuing their investigation.
Born and raised in Rhode Island, Nunes moved to Florida when he was 17.
His love of skydiving began when he was in his 20s. “Skydiving was in his blood and he was very good at it,” said his ex-wife, Karin Meeh.
While in Florida, Nunes conducted canopy formations with Denny, Troxel and other fellow skydivers.
According to the United States Parachute Association, a “canopy formation (CF) is the name of the competition discipline for the skydiving activity commonly called canopy relative work (CRW) or ‘crew.’”
“Canopy formations are built by the intentional maneuvering of two or more open parachute canopies in close proximity to or in contact with one another during flight,” the association said.
Meeh, who was married to Nunes for 20 years before their union ended, described him as a funny, intelligent man who was full of life. He was a clown, she said during a Wednesday phone interview from Florida.
“He loved his boys very much,” said Meeh, mother of their two sons, Robert Nunes, 23, and Philip Nunes, 19.
In addition to skydiving, Nunes enjoyed volleyball, bodyboarding and surfing.
Nunes moved to Maui from Florida in July 2021 and worked as a tour bus driver.
Denny last spoke to Nunes a week ago when Nunes talked about how much he loved living on the island.
Troxel recalled performing demonstration skydiving jumps at the beach with Nunes as well as skydiving jumps for charity events in Florida. “They were very memorable. Rob was a very much-loved member of our skydiving community,” he said in a phone interview from Florida.
“We’re all shattered here,” Troxel said of Nunes’ death. “My heart goes out to his boys.”
Troxel said Nunes was one of the friendliest people he ever met and had a huge heart. “I’m going to miss him forever,” he said as he choked up. “There are so many friends back in Florida and throughout the skydiving community that are going to miss him immeasurably.
“He was a good, good soul,” Troxel added.