Lots of us have already seen a video clip (see link below) of this accident online. I understand some of this footage is to appear on a tabloid TV program tonight. I saw the video online last night for the first time myself, really glad you're still with us Dimitri. Earlier this year I had heard a rumor about the accident and asked Dimitri about what happened. What follows are interview comments from Dimitri that I received some months back about this accident. I decided to shelve them pending the day when and if the video came out.
Earlier this year (2008) Dimitri Maramenides was kiteboarding for a photo shoot. He was riding an Eclipse 10 m Thruster in gusty 18 to 35 mph winds. After the shoot had been completed he improvised some moves. One including jumping over a house out in the water. He had to clear the support A-frames of the house extending about 30 ft. off the water. So, his jumps were up to around 40 ft. high and about 120 ft. downwind. He completed six jumps. Then he attached a back-mounted "point of view" video camera provided by kiteflix.com. The camera, mounting arm and recording housing added a payload of about 20 pounds. He jumped two more times successfully but the substantial extra weight was throwing off his timing in the jumps. On the last attempted jump, things went very wrong.
He was charging the house building up speed and line tension to boost big to clear the house. Suddenly he felt the wind start to drop into a lull. He was too close to the house and going too fast to abort his jump. He knew he had to launch the jump or slam into the side of it but he also realized he wouldn't have enough power to clear the house. He boosted and started to hit a timber support above the roof , he positioned his board in front of him to take the impact and put his arms in front of his face. The board broke in two upon striking one of the diagonal timber supports with a tremendous bang! He rotated slamming in back first into the flat roof with the camera housing taking the next impact helping to protect his back.
He was then pulled across the roof by the kite and fell ten feet slamming into a wooden dock encompassing the house hitting his head on a wood hand rail. He couldn't feel anything at this point and just thought about his kids. His kite was streaming off downwind and about to drag him into the water. Everyone yelled to grab him in the background. They thought he was dead. His kite control bar was miraculously knocked activating his quick release depowering the kite. Otherwise he might have readily drowned if pulled into the water by the kite in his incapacitated state. He knew one of his ribs was broken and his ass was killing him. The impact bashed the crap out of him, literally. The guys wanted to have him airlifted out by helicopter but Dimitri wanted to fly out for his home in OBX that night and overruled the motion. He needed to see his kids at home the next day without fail, it was as simple as that. He managed to get up and go into the water to clean up. They got him into the boat for a feverish 20 minute ride to shore. He was shivering uncontrollably and likely in shock. On his return home his daughter asked him "why is your butt so big?" Wonder how he answered that?
He went to a doctor in OBX the next day who determined he fractured a rib and his pelvis. His butt was so big and swollen he couldn't put his pants on. Many months later his butt is still numb perhaps the outcome of bursitis caused by the severe impact.
Lessons learned in all of this?
Don't jump hard objects.
If this can happen to someone of Dimitri's exceptional skill level, it can happen to anyone. Lots of guys have been injured over the years by trying to clear boats, jetties, etc.. You never know when the wind will ease, gear break, you might screw up a jump or any of many other things might go wrong.
As an aside and largely unrelated to this accident, sometimes reports come in about guys jumping people. No one was being jumped this day. If you want to be charged with manslaughter someday and/or taken to the poor house for life in a lawsuit, go ahead and do it. Again, if Dimitri can screw up trying to clear an object (no one controls the wind), ANYONE can hit what they are trying to jump over.
Dimitri is an unusual guy, this is how he makes his living. Has done for over ten years. He will be the first to say don't do this sort of thing to others. The actions may not be the best choice all the time but he does push things. These collective acts, the successes, routine events and odd trips south are what have made him who he is. It has cost him broken bones at least five or six times over the years too. So, it isn't like he doesn't know the risks and hasn't already experienced the pain of unsuccessful attempts. Unlike the majority of pro riders, Dimitri has filled me in on details several times over many years on what went wrong to try to spare others the same bad experience. Thanks for that Dimitri but take it easier on yourself, ok? Also, any spectacular negative event can be used against the sport particularly if it gets out into the popular media as the video has. Access concerns exist in various parts of the world. It is good to consider what unexpected outcomes might bring against our freedom to ride.
The video appears at:http://kiteflix.com/
NB - not sure if this site is still safe, re: viruses.
A safe version is at: http://fksa.org/showthread.php?t=7570