Bodyboarder Dies At Pipeline

As reported on

Twenty-three-year-old bodyboarder Joshua Kalai Nakata, who by all accounts loved the ocean as much as he loved life, died Sunday after he apparently struck his head on the reef at the Banzai Pipeline on the North Shore.

With his bodyboard and fins ripped away, Nakata was under the water for about 10 to 15 minutes before he was found, family members said.

North Shore lifeguard Capt. Bodo Van Der Leeden said wave conditions for most of the day were 6 to 8 feet. At the time Nakata ran into trouble, 8- to 10-foot sets were coming in at low tide, Van Der Leeden said.

Lifeguards pulled Nakata out of the water and began cardiopulmonary resuscitation until paramedics arrived. He was taken in critical condition to Kahuku Hospital, where he died. An autopsy is expected to be performed today to determine the cause of death.

Nakata’s mother described him as a great big brother to his three younger siblings. “He was every mother’s dream to have a child,” said Belinda Nakata. He was an easygoing person with a radiant smile that would light up a room, she said.

Nakata, a 2002 graduate of Mililani High School, worked seven days a week at the United Parcel Service. He often drove to work with his younger brother, Gary Jr., also a UPS employee.

Nakata spent much of his spare time bodyboarding, family members said. His favorite spots were Backdoor and Off the Wall at Ehukai Beach Park. Nakata also frequented the Banzai Pipeline on days he knew he could handle the wave conditions, said his brother.