*


All times are UTC + 1 hour



Post new topic Reply to topic
 [ 2 posts ] 
Author Message
 Post subject: Belize Fatality
PostPosted: Wed Jun 29, 2005 9:35 pm 
Offline
Very Frequent Poster
User avatar

Joined: Mon Feb 11, 2002 1:00 am
Posts: 8270
Location: Florida
Image

A 41 year old man went kiteboarding on June 7, 2005 at approximately 2 pm off the east coast of Caye Caulker, Belize. The conditions were onshore about 16 to 18 kts. and sunny. The man had been kiteboarding for about 1 1/2 years and windsurfing for 6 years. He was self-taught in kiteboarding and was cautious and safety conscious by nature. He was always asking questions about kiteboarding and riding as frequently as he could working up to take an instructors course in the fall. He was the only kiter on the island.

Image

The weather report the rider received before deciding to go kiteboarding instead of windsurfing due to uncertainty over the winds, is reproduced below.* It forecast east winds 10 to 20 kts. with "showery outbreaks." The man launched a 13 m Slingshot kite and rode out to the area of the reef approximately 1 mile from shore. He was then hit by a sudden squall which caused him to lose his board. No squalls had been observed up to that point in the day.

Image

The squalls in the area typically last for 20 to 30 minutes and then pass over. The squalls are called "pass overs" for that reason. A police boat went offshore to render assistance as the looming squall had "white rain" or very limited visibility. The man declined a ride in by boat but chose to body drag in with the boat following along. The man body dragged into shore with building winds, side onshore from the Southeast possibly from the same squall that caused him to lose his board offshore. He was trying to land his kite with an assistant approximately 35 to 40 ft. from the brown wooden building shown in the photo below in ankle deep water.

Image

He repeatedly tried to land the kite to an untrained assistant but given the gusting conditions and lack of of the assistant's experience it was unsuccessful. Grabbing and holding on to a kite can be challenging even to experienced kiters in strong gusting conditions. He had been pulled in almost the waters edge at this point. The man hollered to go get the usual guy that helps him to land his kite from a nearby shop.

The man then tried to walk back offshore to continue to try to land the kite to an assistant. The assistant yelled to the man to ditch the kite. The wind gusts have been estimated to be 20 to 30 kts. to 30 to 35 kts. by witnesses. Winds aloft near the kite were estimated at 40 kts. plus during the squall.

The man apparently wanted to try to still land the kite conventionally. He tried to raise the kite to the zenith but was hit by a gust sweeping the lines through a flag pole on the beach. The wind gusted again pulling the man into the side of a tree near the waters edge. A bystander grabbed the man's ankle trying to hold him but the wind gusted even more ripping the man away and into then dislodging the corner wooden post supporting the roof of the single story building shown above. The assistant said he did see the man reach for his harness to apparently try to pull the emergency release and was heard to say "Oh No!" immediately prior to his striking the post. There were two people standing downwind of the kite which might explain the man's reluctance to pull his quick release earlier. The man suffered a severe injury to the back of his head on impact with the post. He was not wearing a helmet. He died shortly after the impact from his injuries.

* BELIZE WEATHER BUREAU
NATIONAL METEOROLOGICAL SERVICE

GENERAL WEATHER FORECAST
--------------------------------------------------------
DATE: 06/07/05
TIME: 6:30am
--------------------------------------------------------
GENERAL SITUATION: MOIST AND UNSTABLE CONDITIONS WILL SUPPORT SHOWERY OUTBREAKS!
--------------------------------------------------------
24HR FORECAST: GENREALLY CLOUDY WITH A FEW SHOWERS AND ISOLATED THUNDERSTORMS MAINLY ALONG THE COAST THIS MORNING THEN OVER INLAND AREAS LATER.
--------------------------------------------------------
WINDS: EAST 10-20KTS.
--------------------------------------------------------
SEAS: MODERATE;


Last edited by RickI on Fri Jul 01, 2005 5:19 am, edited 3 times in total.

{ SHARE_ON_FACEBOOK } { SHARE_ON_TWITTER } { SHARE_ON_ORKUT } { SHARE_ON_DIGG } { SHARE_ON_MYSPACE } { SHARE_ON_DELICIOUS }
Top
Profile
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jun 29, 2005 9:36 pm 
Offline
Very Frequent Poster
User avatar

Joined: Mon Feb 11, 2002 1:00 am
Posts: 8270
Location: Florida
Several important points that should be known by all kiteboarders are underscored by this sad accident.

1. REACT WELL IN ADVANCE of excessive gusts by fully depowering your kite using the leash or other emergency depowering mechanism. This should happen prior to any substantial change in wind and gust speed, direction or temperature. DON'T WAIT too long as other injured riders have in the past.

2. Always be aware of weather conditions while riding. Get in the habit of frequently looking around and to windward to signs of changing weather, e.g. suspect clouds, white caps, wind line, blowing dust on land, etc..

3. Thoroughly evaluate predicted and realtime weather prior to heading off to kiteboard. Some ideas along these lines appear at: http://fksa.org/viewtopic.php?t=130

4. Regularly practice solo landing in a variety of conditions with a load tested and maintained quick release to where you are comfortable doing so at anytime while continuously maintaining a reasonable downwind buffer. DO NOT BE OVERLY RELIANT ON ASSISTED LANDINGS. THIS EXCESSIVE RELIANCE HAS KILLED RIDERS IN THE PAST.

5. DO NOT WAIT TO COME CLOSE TO HARD OBJECTS & BYSTANDERS TO DEPOWER WITH UNSTABLE WEATHER MOVING IN. You will likely not know when and how severely the wind might build along with lightening hazards. Microbursts associated with squalls and Virga can send tremendous wind gusts out 2 1/2 miles away.

6. Wear reasonable safety gear.

7. Work on launching and landing unhooked with a reasonable downwind buffer. The minimum distance of this buffer goes up with wind and gust speed. Unhook immediately pending dropping your control bar if applicable to your safety system. Rehearse just letting go of the bar prior to an emergency happening.

More ideas on safer kiteboarding practices that might reduce the odds of injury appear at: http://fksa.org/viewtopic.php?t=478

COMMENTARY

It is human nature to try to sort things out on our own, particularly absent other kiteboarders. There were several opportunities for the man to have depowered his kite and avoid the accident. Still, it is a judgement call as to when and if we "pull the plug" on all that potential power exerted by the kite. Lots of riders have held in too long in the past and tried to sort things out. This sport and problems can distract us into delaying or avoiding early response at all. The accident experience suggests that we should depower the kite as a matter of course earlier given the uncertainty posed by developing weather systems.

We need to reevaluate the potential hazards posed by the sport in unstable weather along with the relative inconvenience and hazards of early depowering and JUST DEPOWER early BEFORE the emergency arrives with all its uncertainty. Certainly unhook while evaluating conditions and be prepared to release the control bar.

AVOIDANCE OF THE HAZARD AND EMERGENCY IS KEY. We need to use the best weather planning and monitoring available in our respective areas to TRY to avoid falling into these circumstances. People caught in severe cases of dragging and lofting rarely attempt to or are successful in emergency depowering their kites for a variety of potential reasons.

SCUBA diving, hang gliding, powered flight, automobile driving, American Football ALL went through avoidable accidents in the early days due to lack of knowledge, appreciation and means of avoidance of hazards. Each of these activities went through respective crisis in their day. It would be good to minimize or even avoid ours through building knowledge. This is a primary reason that these sad accounts are written.
FKA, Inc.

transcribed by:
Rick Iossi


Top
Profile
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic
 [ 2 posts ] 

All times are UTC + 1 hour


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 0 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
Powered by phpBB © 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 phpBB Group