Waimea man missing while diving

  • Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island

    Kaua‘i police and fire departments establish a point-of-contact camp, Monday during search efforts for a missing diver near Glass Beach.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    A Kaua‘i Fire Department Ocean Safety Bureau lifeguard aboard a jet ski from the roving unit does a close-to-shore search Monday during efforts to locate a missing diver off Glass Beach near Port Allen.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Air 1 and a lifeguard aboard a jet ski from the Kaua‘i Fire Department Ocean Safety Bureau join the search for a missing diver Monday on the eastern end of Glass Beach near Port Allen.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    A U.S. Coast Guard plane flies over an incoming barge heading for the Port Allen Small Boat Harbor Monday during search efforts for a missing diver off Glass Beach near Port Allen

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    A Kaua‘i firefighter uses binoculars to scan the coastline Monday while his partner accesses the shoreline via a trail on the eastern end of Glass Beach near Port Allen.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Doreen Kua, left, scans the ocean near the vehicle used by Nelson Kupenes to access Glass Beach Monday while Kaua‘i firefighters make their way to the trail at the eastern end of the Port Allen Cemetery.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    A Kaua‘i Fire Department firefighter braves large, breaking waves to scour the shoreline east of Glass Beach near Port Allen Monday.

PORT ALLEN — A multi-agency search for a missing diver started Monday along the coastline of Glass Beach in Port Allen.

Initially triggered by a missing-persons report around 10 a.m. Monday, the Kaua‘i Police Department responded to Glass Beach, and pulled in the support of the different agencies including the Kaua‘i Fire Department, Air 1 helicopter, KFD Ocean Safety Bureau and U.S. Coast Guard.

Nelson Kupenes of Waimea had gone to Glass Beach to dive in increasingly rough ocean conditions Sunday afternoon.

“He liked those kinds of conditions,” said Doreen Kua, Kupenes’ girlfriend, who did not accompany Kupenes on his outing.“He said he was going to Glass Beach, and possibly Camp 1.”

Shikera Wilhelm, a friend of Kua’s, was with the group of Kupenes’ friends and relatives Monday, monitoring the search efforts.

“Everybody calls him ‘Napkin,’” Wilhelm said. “He likes to go out by himself because he always says he can dive away from the rough water. If it gets too rough, he usually comes out.”

Suspicions arose Monday when Kupenes did not show up for work.

“That’s his boss’s truck,” Kua said. “He was using it, and parks there when he dives at Glass Beach. The truck’s been there all night since Sunday. If he went to Camp 1, he would walk to the trail and hike in. But he always comes home before going to work.”

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Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or dfujimoto@thegardenisland.com.

4 Comments
  1. tunataxi June 22, 2021 7:22 am Reply

    Some big shelfs and a couple caves on the left side of camp one outside the bay at about 40 feet ask dive companies about them


  2. I saw a Vampire once June 22, 2021 8:18 am Reply

    Nothing else to do but get killed diving? Awkward is people’s logic of what to do on this rock. Modernized, still they choose cave man style of living.


  3. D June 22, 2021 4:50 pm Reply

    i wonder if they realized that they actually insulted themselves. The joys of ignorance. Trying to passive-aggressively insult Kauaians, when during said attempt, insulted themselves even more so. lolz


  4. Christie June 22, 2021 8:08 pm Reply

    I’d rather live like a ‘cave man’ and die doing what I love, than on a freeway in LA or living an East coast fancy lifestyle.


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