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 Post subject: Another serious head injury accident last week
PostPosted: Thu Sep 09, 2010 4:23 am 
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Location: Toronto, CANADA
It's been an epic week on the Great Lakes in Ontario Canada with awesome winds and huge swells!

We've been lit up on 4m to 6m kites all over.

Been an awesome summer too with this being my first riding locally. I've really been missing out on great freshwater riding and an incredible crew of local riders.

Sadly, one of my new kiteboarding friends Yurii K was seriously injured last week. Reminded me of Kinsley Wong. Skilled rider not wearing a helmet hits his head on the rocks.

Details are a bit confused but I'll try to condense the story you can follow here found on our local Canada kiteforum http://www.thechickenloop.com

So three of them were riding at Long Beach, Ontario. This is on the north shore of Lake Erie just west of Buffalo, NY and Niagara Falls.

Winds were reported by one of the guys as 15 knots as dark clouds possibly a building thunderstorm approached. The clouds appeared to turn away. Two guys were on the water and one on shore. Differing reports as to whether Yurii was launching or landing. Either way he was on the beach when the squall line hit.

Reports he got launched across the beach and hit the sand hard a few times, then the rocks and then ended up unconscious hanging five feet up a tree from his harness. Witnesses on the beach said he was grabbing for something on his waist (likely his quick release) as he got launched and bounced. One guy on the water said winds came up to 30 knots in 60 seconds and that he barely got rid of his kite after getting thrashed in the water. Said had the wind not switched to offshore that he'd have ended up in the trees too.

Anyways, Yurii is not a kook. Good solid rider. Quiet, soft spoken but really nice guy. Been kiting for maybe 4 years and windsurfing before that. A good ww kayaker also so I'd consider him a decent waterman. I know him to be a conservative guy with good skills and not a show off or daredevil at all. In fact, just a few weeks ago we were out and he thought the wind was a bit much for a 12m and he waited until it died off enough to ride. Here is a link tohis photoblog of that day.. note the comments that he waited it out.

While I am surprised that he'd be going out, the fact remains he had his kite in the air when the squall line hit and others had already stopped flying earlier.

He suffered a severe head impact but no spinal damage. He was in a coma for several days and has recently been brought out of it to see what kind of brain damage he suffered. He is improving but the damage to the frontal lobe is physical and not insignificant.

I spoke with his sister and she appreciates the good wishes but he has so many friends here that she asks that nobody visit for at least a month.

I asked about if he was wearing a helmet. She said that she was surprised he wasn't as he wears one for every other activity!

I asked if a helmet would have made a difference.

I heard it in her voice as she came to grips with the reality of it. She said it would have made ALL the difference. It seems that a single blow to the head was from a sharp rock and in an area above his forehead that a helmet would have protected.


I know that Rick has been ragging on everyone to wear a helmet and has been a real hero (in my opinion) in his good fight. But frankly, I don't wear a helmet kiteboarding. I wear one skiing and snowboarding, riding a bike and rollerblading.. but the most extreme thing I do is kiteboard and I don't wear one! And I'm better at ALL those other sports!

WTF is with me? :oops:

What does it take to get this helmet message through our thin fragile skulls?

Does it take realizing my brilliant genius 30 year friend is now going to have to live with a brain injury for the rest of his life? That his young sister and loyal girlfriend now have their lives put on hold to make sure he gets the best care and rehab in the hospital? How can they afford to take a leave of absence from work and deplete their savings?

Am *I* willing to put my family through a lifetime of cutting my steak and wiping my @$$ because I do't feel like wearing a helmet in the water?

Or does it just take me seeing this happen to my new friend?


{ SHARE_ON_FACEBOOK } { SHARE_ON_TWITTER } { SHARE_ON_ORKUT } { SHARE_ON_DIGG } { SHARE_ON_MYSPACE } { SHARE_ON_DELICIOUS }
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 Post subject: Re: Another serious head injury accident last week
PostPosted: Thu Sep 09, 2010 4:49 am 
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I had heard about this sad accident earlier today and just finished doing a writeup on it. There have been way too many squall injuries. People think they can handle it, often enough, they can't. There will likely be more such injuries as the fall frontal season kicks into gear.

There was a nasty lofting accident in a cold front squall line in the Great Lakes a few days back. The cold front was creeping across North America for days with the embedded squalls visible to anyone who looked at it on radar.

The squall line was visible to the folks on the lake as well, at least 20 minutes out from reports. The vast majority of kiters landed and secured well before the squall arrived. Three riders chose to not land despite the obvious incoming weather hazard. Two kiters were forced by the strong winds to set their kites free but one was unable to do so. He was lofted several times eventually into some rocks suffering multiple broken bones in both legs, severe head injury resulting in a two day coma and other injuries. He has traumatic brain injury as a result of the impact which may present some challenges in recovery. One account says he was heading out into the storm while another said he was waiting for an assisted landing. He was flying a 12 m kite. He is described as a careful guy who wears a helmet for kayaking and bicycling, just not for kiting.

This man is fighting hard through some serious injuries, let's wish him the best in his recovery.

The squall line was estimated to have past over well within an hour with even better winds filling in after the storms cleared. As Great Lake squalls go, this one wasn't that powerful but strong enough to do some serious harm to this rider. If folks had been looking at Internet resources seeing this hazardous squall line hours, even days in advance would have been easy. No session is worth this kind of harm. None of the three kiters was able to keep his kite under control in this fairly weak squall. You never know what sort of winds a squall will throw out until it is on you. There were even stronger squall spikes in the area within a week of this tragic event.


Last edited by RickI on Thu Sep 09, 2010 4:59 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Another serious head injury accident last week
PostPosted: Thu Sep 09, 2010 4:51 am 
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Location: Florida
So, how to try to avoid stuff like this from happening? Wearing reasonable safety gear is always a good idea, physically and mentally rehearsing what to do in a high wind emergency. The BEST thing to do is to work to avoid the hazard in the first place.


Image
The launch was located along the northern shore of Lake Erie near "A." To makes things more productive, links to weather resources are below each of the figures below for future reference if folks want to try to avoid repeating this accident.

If you have an idea about what sort of weather is expected, when and you pay attention to changes, acting early, you improve the odds of better wind and weather conditions while reducing the chances of tangling with weather hazards. One approach is described below with actual imagery of conditions prior to this sad accident.


So, what winds are forecast, temperatures, CHANGES through the day including wind speed, direction and when, HAZARD forecast at the launch and up weather?
A) WEATHER & HAZARD FORECAST:
http://www.weatheroffice.gc.ca/marine/region_e.html?mapID=11
http://www.wunderground.com/cgi-bin/findweather/getForecast?query=port%20colborne&wuSelect=WEATHER
http://www.erh.noaa.gov/buf/



Image
B) WEATHER MAP: http://www.hpc.ncep.noaa.gov/noaa/noaa.gif
A massive cold front had moved east for several days, the blue line.


Image
C) RADAR: http://radar.weather.gov/radar.php?rid=buf&product=N0R&overlay=11101111&loop=no
Here is the squall line about FOUR HOURS before the accident with lots of obvious embedded storms. Apparently it had collided with a warm front, occluding it and then there was Hurricane Earl hanging in the ocean just to the east.



Image
D) SATELLITE: http://www.goes.noaa.gov/ECIR4.html (there may be better local images than this for your area)
This shows the size of the cold front and Earl spinning just off to the right.


Image
E) REAL TIME WINDS UPWEATHER: http://www.ikitesurf.com/windandwhere.iws?regionID=96&regionProductID=1&timeoffset=0
Finally, here is the wind graph for around the time of the accident from a station about 20 miles to the east. Nice squall spike that approximates the wind gusts estimated at the launch.


Weather planning and monitoring isn't that hard to do. It can improve your quality of riding, reduce idle wind waiting and help to reduce the odds of falling into weather hazards. If you ignore squalls, you are setting yourself up for a real bad situation one of these days. There have been so many avoidable injuries over the years to folks that didn't give weather hazards enough consideration. If you see a squall line, plan to have your kite secured well before it passes over, DON'T plan on riding through it! If you screw up badly and still have your kite as it moves in, Emergency Depower (kill the kite's power fully) EARLY and be prepared to set the kite free if it fails to depower properly. Don't stand there waiting for an assisted landing, too many guys have been hurt doing just that. Kill the kite's power while you still have the option. Hope real hard there is no one downwind to be hurt by your kite if you set it free.

FKA, Inc.

transcribed by:
Rick Iossi


Last edited by RickI on Thu Sep 09, 2010 2:39 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Another serious head injury accident last week
PostPosted: Thu Sep 09, 2010 5:05 am 
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Hi Rick,

Excellent summary!! Thanks for posting all the information too.

Incredible to see the wind spike from just before 2:00pm from 15 knots to a gust almost 40 knots!

I've lurked here, on the FKSA site and iKitesurf for years and really admire your evangelical dedication to getting the safety messages out. I also see your detractors comment from time to time.

Keep up the good fight for us. Too bad it takes things like this hitting so close to home to make us wake up to the reality... as us pilot say "I need to learn from the mistakes of others as I WILL NOT live long enough to make them all myself!"


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 Post subject: Re: Another serious head injury accident last week
PostPosted: Thu Sep 09, 2010 2:20 pm 
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Thanks, the thing is this storm event was visible for several days in advance. The narrow squall line showed up on radar and satellite images for sometime. They may take minutes to days to pass over, usually on the shorter side however. This squall line passed in less than 30 minutes from reports as is often the case. You can watch radar images on loop and see how fast they move over at times.

Is it worth trading your kite, time off work, health or even life for less than an hour of riding? In this case, conditions got even better following the passage of the cold front squall line. This scenario has been repeated way too many times and will continue to be until folks start to take these simple precautions seriously.


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 Post subject: Re: Another serious head injury accident last week
PostPosted: Thu Sep 09, 2010 3:09 pm 
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flyrob wrote:
I know that Rick has been ragging on everyone to wear a helmet and has been a real hero (in my opinion) in his good fight. But frankly, I don't wear a helmet kiteboarding. I wear one skiing and snowboarding, riding a bike and rollerblading.. but the most extreme thing I do is kiteboard and I don't wear one! And I'm better at ALL those other sports!

WTF is with me? :oops:

What does it take to get this helmet message through our thin fragile skulls?

Does it take realizing my brilliant genius 30 year friend is now going to have to live with a brain injury for the rest of his life? That his young sister and loyal girlfriend now have their lives put on hold to make sure he gets the best care and rehab in the hospital? How can they afford to take a leave of absence from work and deplete their savings?


Sorry to hear about your friend. I hope he recovers as fully as possible given the injury.

I dated a girl who suffered a brain injury snowboarding and although she can do 90% of what others do now the missing 10% has irrevocably changed the course of her life because she has lost some key functions required to relate to other people...worst part is she knows something is wrong, but can't really do anything about it. :cry:

Most of our helmet use seems to be irrational. We try and force people to wear a helmet to ride their bikes down the block to get a coffee, but don't wear helmets when kiteboarding or skateboarding.

Personally I figure any sport where I'm going to crash at least once every time I do it I should be wearing a helmet so for me that's - kiteboarding, snowboarding and mountain biking.

Where I ride the water isn't really warm even in the middle of summer so wearing a helmet isn't a real drag as it keep my head warm.


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 Post subject: Re: Another serious head injury accident last week
PostPosted: Thu Sep 09, 2010 4:24 pm 
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Just my comment: helmets protect you against your board too, not just rocks... you can hit your board while getting worked in a gust or like in my case you can have a wave pick up the baord and throw it in your head leaving a permanent imprint of your skull in it (actually in my case I left an imprint of my helmet cuz I was already wearing one!) :thumb:


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 Post subject: Re: Another serious head injury accident last week
PostPosted: Thu Sep 09, 2010 4:32 pm 
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Another thing is to please all of you have your insurance up to date and make sure it will cover you, most of the accident reports are followed by: "The kiter had no insurance.....Their insurance provider won´t cover this accident, etc, etc, etc". A serious accident and a couple days in the ER can wipe out years of savings!

Hope this guy get´s better very soon and recovers fully!


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 Post subject: Re: Another serious head injury accident last week
PostPosted: Thu Sep 09, 2010 5:19 pm 
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Location: Toronto, CANADA
Vikb wrote:
flyrob wrote:
...
Sorry to hear about your friend. I hope he recovers as fully as possible given the injury.

I dated a girl who suffered a brain injury snowboarding and although she can do 90% of what others do now the missing 10% has irrevocably changed the course of her life because she has lost some key functions required to relate to other people...worst part is she knows something is wrong, but can't really do anything about it. :cry:


Thanks VikB.

Your friend's 10% is typical of injuries to the frontal lobe of the brain. The saddest part is as you said that she likely knows that somethign is wrong but can't do anything to overcome it. That's what happens when the brain is physically damaged. And why a helmet's mechanical protection is so helpful.

From wikipedia's page on the Frontal Lobes:

"The executive functions of the frontal lobes involve the ability to recognize future consequences resulting from current actions, to choose between good and bad actions (or better and best), override and suppress unacceptable social responses, and determine similarities and differences between things or events. Therefore, it is involved in higher mental functions.
The frontal lobes also play an important part in retaining longer term memories which are not task-based. These are often memories associated with emotions derived from input from the brain's limbic system. The frontal lobe modifies those emotions to generally fit socially acceptable norms."


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 Post subject: Re: Another serious head injury accident last week
PostPosted: Thu Sep 09, 2010 6:07 pm 
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I hope he will be as good as possible...wishing him all the best for the recovery.

Helmet or not...always a good question...but it shouldn't be. Everyone is responsible for their doing, and more and more use helmets. The only way not to use it, is to be prepared to what can happen.
This is also checking the weather if any squalls will be around or not.
Nothing is 100% save, but this will already help quiet a lot.

In a thermal or trade wind area like Brazil you could ride without, in a frontal area you should use a helmet...me too!

Thanks for posting this story, and a good time to think about a helmet.


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