Some KSI account summaries follow of accidents in which helmets provided an important role or easily could have. The complete accounts appear at:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/kitesurf/ ... EFERENCES/
a. An experienced kiteboarder was out with a 12 m Aero II kite in gusty, 17 kts. side onshore winds. He had made a few runs and has no real memory of the rest of the accident. The rest of this account is constructed from observer reports. The rider dropped his kite about 5 m from shore. He managed to relaunch the kite but was suddenly hit by a 33 kt. wind gust. He was lofted a few feet upward and flown at speed towards the beach. He hit the right side of his helmet against the sand beach. The accident happened with such speed he thought he wouldn't have had time to activate his quick release. The rider lost consciousness on impact. Someone flying a trainer kite nearby ran up and grabbed the injured riders kite. The rider was taken to hospital with a serious concussion, with initial symptoms of incoherence, talking gibberish, repeatedly asking the same question over and over again and having difficulty thinking. The more noticeable concussion symptoms went away after a few weeks. Similar symptoms have been reported in some other kiteboarding concussion cases.
b. An experienced kiteboarder went out early in onshore winds, anticipating a wet cold front to arrive in late morning. He had checked out the weather predictions prior to riding that morning. He had been riding on a 16 m kite for a couple of hours well powered. He could see the rain clouds coming in from the horizon and estimated that he had about another short session in before coming back in and rigging down to an 8 m kite to better manage the gusty wind conditions. He was moving offshore with his kite high off the surface when he was hit by a strong gust about 5 m off the shore. He was moved back on to the beach and dragged along a distance on his board. He was wearing booties for the first time this season and was restricted in easily kicking his board off. He was reluctant to bring his kite down from vertical to avoid being dragged any faster than he was already moving. He concluded that there was a low chance of being lofted. He was suddenly lofted upwards about 10 m. He had his hand on his quick release by concluded that he was too high up to safely release and fall to earth. He was rapidly blowing inland and off the beach about 60 m downwind. He gently dropped to earth about 1 m before a fence. He failed to release and depower his kite at this critical moment. He was lofted again very rapidly after having concluded that he was in control of the situation. He gained altitude rapidly over the next 60 m and went over the top of a house. He was heading towards the wall of another house and concluding that he was going to hit very hard. He steered the kite slightly to the left in an effort to avoid hitting the side of the house and sharp architectural treatments. He increased his forward speed and came down fast, pulling his quick release about 1 m from the ground. He landed feet first on top of a stone wall and bounced forward into a passageway. He immediately was in intense pain and unable to move. His injuries were as follows: broke off the back of his left heel. I was reconnected through surgery. He suffered a compressed vertebra. His right shin bone was broken. His right heel was crushed with several fractures. This rider normally always wore a helmet but forgot it on this morning.
b1. An experienced rider connected one of his back lines to the front of his kite and launched in undesignated winds. As a result he was dragged into the rocks at the base of the bluff. The rider suffered a broken arm, leg, extensive bruises, cuts, scrapes, etc. The rider was reportedly not wearing a helmet.
c. A female pro rider had just launched a 5.5m AMP kite in 30 to 40 kt. gusty side onshore winds well away from the water. The wind was starting to increase in speed shortly after launch. She asked another kiteboarder to hold her down but he wasn't able to. Her jam cleat securing her chicken loop then slipped in a gust and fully powered up the kite. Her kite was near vertical at the time of this accident. The guy then grabbed her arm knocking her off balance. In attempting to regain balance she shifted the bar, further powered up her kite and the guy completely lost his grip at this point. She was lofted and hit the sand hard on landing after flying about 10 m horizontally. As a result she fractured two vertebrae. It is not known if she was wearing a helmet or impact vest.
d. An experienced kieboarder was out in 20 kt. side onshore winds with a 12 m Naish X2 kite. As he was riding towards the beach he was hit by a sudden strong gust that lofted him about 20 m (60 ft.), on to the beach. Other riders were out when the gust hit but this rider was closest to shore and presumably was the only one that couldn't activate his kite leash. He tried to open his unspecified snap shackle but it would not function. As he discovered this situation he was flying at speed towards a rock groin.
The rider considered his two choices including: 1) to take the kite through zenith and ditch it into the sea risking a second lofting (probably onto the groin) or 2) to fly the kite into the beach at the slight risk of the kite going over a set of 3 phase, 240 volt power lines. The rider chose the second option and had flown closer to the power lines. So once he dove the kite to the beach, it had gone over the power lines. At this point he was standing on the ground on one side of the power lines with the kite on the other.
Before the rider could figure out how to release his snap shackle he was hit by a second strong gust. This gust relaunched the kite. The kite pulled the rider up towards the powerlines about 8 m (25 ft.) above the ground. He slammed head first into a bungalow roof on the way up breaking the back of his Gath helmet open and sending it flying off. The kite pulled the rider along the powerlines towards a wooden power pole. He hits the power pole and wraps his legs around it. He then lifts his control bar on top of the pole to where the rear kite lines lay of each side of the power pole. The lines short the powerlines with electrical sparks erupting. With the next gust his control bar breaks in two resulting in the activation of his kite depowering leash. He then slides about 1 m down the power pole, cutting into his hands with the 4 inch nails driven into the pole. He then leaps away from the pole on to the roof of a house and in turn on to a dune behind the house.
The rider suffered head lacerations requiring stitches and other cuts to his hands. He also had some hand burns caused by the electrical short. His Gath helmet was broken apart by the impact, his impact vest was heavily punctured, his wetsuit was substantially sliced, his control bar was broken when a 1 inch section of his spreader bar hook was apparently melted by the electrical arching. His kite was undamaged. The top of the power pole was charred by the electrical short. The rider had stopped using a helmet the week before when he decided to no longer use a board leash. He had cut his head on the garage door the morning of the accident and so chose to wear his helmet that day to protect the cut.
e. An experienced kiteboarder out for his first session of the new season, rigged up an unspecified kite, in gusty unspecified onshore winds near a roadway. Someone walked up to give him an assisted launch as he was setting up for solo launch. The first assisted launch resulted in the kite hitting the ground. The second launch the kite rocketed up and over the wind window, dragging the rider across the beach, over the nearby roadway and into the side of a parked car. The kite luffed then surged up in a new gust and lifted the rider up and over the car and dropped him head first into the middle of the roadway. The lofting extended over roughly 40 horizontally and 12 ft. high. The rider was taken to hospital with undesignated injuries. The rider was reportedly not wearing a helmet.
f. A novice kiteboarder was flying a 10 m Naish Aero II kite when winds gusting to 20 kts. blew the rider into a rock groin. The rider released his bar and depowered his kite after initial impact. The rider suffered a number of deep cuts above his eye and to his shin. A considerable quantity of blood was spilled in this accident. The rider hit board first thereby absorbing a fair amount of the impact force. The rider was reportedly not wearing a helmet.
g. A new kiteboarder had just solo launched an oversized kite for existing wind conditions. He proceeded to try to solo land his kite when he noticed that his kite lesh had come undone. As usual the leash lay just beyond the rider's reach despite his extensive efforts to grab it. The kiteboarder then asked a bystander for help. The bystander grabbed the leash line but then pulled on it. This looped the kite into the power zone thereby lofting the rider. He hit the beach and was lofted again. The rider then managed to get out of the chicken loop at this point and released his kite. The kite flew off and landed in a camp site. The rider dislocated his hip, requiring hospitalization and traction for several weeks. The kiteboarder wants to return to riding as soon as he can. The rider was reportedly not wearing a helmet.
h. An experienced kiteboarder visiting from Europe was riding in 15 to 20 kt. onshore winds, in very shallow water near shore when his board fin struck bottom. He tumbled, fell over and pulled his kite into the center of the powerzone. He was dragged at high speed inland across the sand. He was seen to be pulling his snap shackle in an attempt to release his bar and depower his kite. The shackle released but it snagged on the rubber covering of the chicken loop and held tight. The rider was dragged head first into a wall and was severely injured. He was not reported to be wearing a helmet. He was not carrying ID so there was a delay in identifying the kiteboarder. He was reportedly using a side release snap shackle connected directly over the chicken loop.
i. An experienced rider had just launched his 14 m Toro II kite in steady 15 kt. side onshore winds while standing near the water with his kite inland near a car parking lot. He was about 20 m (65 ft.) from a concrete wall that bordered the parking lot along with a number of tall trees. The rider had tried to lock his chicken loop on to his harness hook using the plastic tube that is stitched into the chicken loop assembly. The rider then bends over to pickup his board that is on the ground beside him. The plastic tube was apparently not properly seated in place and released the chicken loop from the spreader bar. This fully powered up the kite, as the rider was holding the bar with only one hand this steered the kite at speed into the power zone. The kiteboarder was lofted a few feet into the air and was then slammed down on to the beach about ten feet away. The kite then dragged the rider towards the concrete wall bordering the parking lot at speed. The kite fortunately tangled in one of the trees bordering the parking lot stopping his rapid passage towards the concrete wall. The overall horizontal distance of travel was approximately 30 ft. The rider apparently hung on to his bar throughout the accident with one hand only and no other connection. The riders kite was badly torn but he suffered no injury. He was not wearing a helmet or impact vest.
There were lots of others in the KSI accounts from 2002, 2001 and 2000. Just a bit of extra caution, knowledge and technique can sometimes help to avoid accidents such as these. People aren't perfect and bad things sometimes happen. Safety gear including helmets are for "just in case." Think about it and choose well.