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 Post subject: Kiteboarder Fatality In Puerto Rico
PostPosted: Fri Jun 28, 2002 6:14 pm 
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I just spoke with a friend of the victim in San Juan, PR about this sad accident. I extend my sincere condolences and regrets to this young man's family and friends.

In an attempt to try to learn from this loss, the details that received to this point follow.

1. The accident occurred off Ocean Park, last Sunday, June 23, 2002.

2. The rider, an apparently healthy 23 year old man had been kiteboarding for about one year and was proficient on the water. He had been windsurfing for many years prior to that time.

3. It was reported to be a beautiful day with about 30 kiteboarders out with onshore winds around 12 to 15 kts. The area is reported to be free of rocks and other hard objects offshore.

4. The rider was out with a North kite of unknown size with a modified leash system. It was stated that the leash was converted from a wrist attachment to a harness spreader bar attachment. The fixed leash attachment was reported to have been transferred from the back line to the chicken loop (front or leading edge?), lines. It appears as though the modified leash system did not fully depower the kite as described below.

5. The rider was seen body dragging and in control at one point. Within about 15 minutes later he was seen being dragged along with his kite relaunching, flying down into the water and subsequently relaunching. The kite would spiral in this fashion as the rider was dragged towards the beach. So even though the leash was activated, the kite was not fully depowered. The rider was stated not to be tangled in any of his lines but had let go of his bar.

6. Police on jet skies intercepted the rider and took him to the hospital where he was pronounced as deceased.

7. The autopsy ruled that death occurred due to drowning. No evidence of impact trauma or obvious cause of drowning was noted.

In summary, this kiteboarder died due to drowning apparently induced by unknown causes. It is not known if the improperly rigged kite leash contributed to his death or not. There was no evidence of impact that would have caused him to lose consciousness. It is not known if there was a preexisting medical condition that contributed to the drowning. It is not known if he was wearing a helmet or impact/flotation vest. If further information is obtained that can shed some light on this sad accident it will be forwarded to the list.

Even though it is not known if the kite leash figured as a cause for this accident or not, it is still critical that all riders verify proper, reliable leash function. Please do the practical leash test and other appropriate evaluation of your system. The test is described at:

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/kitesurf/ ... formation/

It is also not known if an impact vest would have changed the outcome of this accident. Many impact vests will not necessarily float you face up automatically. Approved PFDs will but many models have serious disadvantages in terms of bulk and constriction. I will do more research on lower bulk approved PFDs. Wearing safety gear may help. Then again not wearing it will remove any question of it possibly doing any thing to preserve your health or even your life in a emergency situation.

Rick Iossi

> I heard from a naish designer that there is another kitesurfer death in
> puerto rico. anyone have any news ? Would a helmet, leash, quick release
> or other simple safety device have avoided it ?


Last edited by RickI on Thu Mar 18, 2004 6:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Jun 28, 2002 7:01 pm 
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Sorry to hear this and for the rider himself and his family.

Whatever caused this, once again tragic death, we all have to be aware that we are playing with the nature. Water and wind are very strong forces. Surfers and windsurfers know this for a long time now, that you never can be 100% safe.
Safety can be improved, but something will always happen.

Thanks Rick for the detailed information.

Toby :cry:


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Jun 28, 2002 8:26 pm 
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My condolences go to the relatives!

I know the feeling of being dragged by a kite. I experienced that in the San Francisco bay when I was dragged by the kite when I tried to relaunch it and get it over me. But something was wrong, I can't tell you. I was also trying to put a neopren boot back on that I nearly had lost to that point. But I had to put my head under water and after my fight with the kite, I had no oxygen any more and had to give up the boot.

I always wear a PFD, because for easy of use with a wakeboard (gives at least some floatation) when getting of the bindings in the water or putting the bindings on.

When I rarely do not use the PFD, I really miss the additional up-pull (floatation) by it and sometimes really loose my forces because I have to make swim-movements and so on. I also do not feel so comfortable when being dragged by the kite.

My PFD does not limit my movements, I use it with the DaKine Pyro waist harness. It is a cheap modell (don't know the name of the company).

Robin


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Jun 28, 2002 11:51 pm 
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Additional information from Puerto Rico has been included:

I just spoke with two friends of the victim in San Juan, PR about this sad accident. One of the parties was out riding that day and provided help with the victim when he was brought to shore.

I extend my sincere condolences and regrets to this young man's family and friends. All the men in the family are kiteboarders and this must be a very hard thing for them to deal with.

In an attempt to try to learn from this loss, the details that I have received to this point follow.

1. The accident occurred off Ocean Park, last Sunday, after 5 pm, June 23, 2002. This day is a holiday, San Jaun Baptista (sp). It is a day when people attempt to go into the water at least 12 times during before midnight. It is a very popular day for the beach and water activities.

2. The rider, an apparently healthy 23 year old man weighing about 155 lbs. had been kiteboarding for about one year and was proficient on the water. He could jump and do transitions. He had been windsurfing for many years prior to that time.

3. It was reported to be a beautiful day with about 15 kiteboarders and 30 windsurfers out with steady easterly, onshore winds around 12 to 15 kts. The area is reported to be free of rocks and other hard objects offshore with a water depth of about 10 ft.

4. The rider was out on a twintip board without a board leash, with a 12 m North kite with a modified leash system. It was stated that the leash was converted from a wrist attachment to a harness spreader bar attachment. The fixed leash attachment was reported to have been transferred from the back line to the chicken loop (front or leading edge), lines. It appears as though the modified leash system did not fully depower the kite as described below. I should receive wingspan and leash length measurements and will post that information when I have it.

5. The rider had been seen making jumps. At one point he was seen body dragging and in control. Within about 15 minutes later he was seen being dragged along with his kite relaunching, flying down into the water and subsequently relaunching. The kite would spiral in this fashion as the rider was dragged towards the beach. So even though the leash was activated, the kite was not fully depowered. The rider was stated not to be tangled in any of his lines but had let go of his bar.

6. Police on jet skies intercepted the rider. The rider was unconscious and being dragged by the kite. The officers were having trouble dealing with the kite and so they cut the lines. Another kiteboarder grabbed the powered up kite and deflated the leading edge. The victim showed no vital signs and the beach and did not respond to CPR. A nearby ambulance took the victim to the hospital where he was pronounced as deceased.

7. It has been stated that the autopsy ruled that death occurred due to drowning. Further confirmation of this may be given shortly. No evidence of impact trauma or obvious cause of drowning was reported from the autopsy or noted when the victim was brought to the beach. An apprent line burn was noted on one of the victims ankles. It is not known when this burn occurred, before, during or after the accident.

In summary, this kiteboarder died due to drowning apparently induced by unknown causes. It is not known if the improperly rigged kite leash contributed to his death or not. There was no evidence currently of impact that would have caused him to lose consciousness. It is not known if there was a preexisting medical condition that contributed to the drowning. It does not appear that there was sufficient wind power with that sized kite to drag a conscious rider under long enough to drown him under normal conditions. It has been estimated that the rider's accident occurred close to shore at perhaps around 300 ft. The victim was not wearing a helmet or impact/flotation vest. It is possible that this drowning occurred for reasons not directly related to kiteboarding. If further information is obtained that can shed some light on this sad accident it will be forwarded to the list.

Even though it is not known if the kite leash figured as a cause for this accident or not, it is still critical that all riders verify proper, reliable leash function. Please do the practical leash test and other appropriate evaluation of your system. The test is described at:

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/kitesurf/ ... formation/

Kiteboarding is an extreme sport that isn't as easy as it looks. Essential safety gear can sometimes pose hazards to the rider. That is not an accpetable reason not to use properly designed and tested kite depowering leashes in my opinion.

It is also not known if an impact vest would have changed the outcome of this accident. Many impact vests will not necessarily float you face up automatically. Approved PFDs will but many models have serious disadvantages in terms of bulk and constriction. I will do more research on lower bulk approved PFDs.

Wearing safety gear may help. Then again not wearing safety gear will remove any chance of it doing any thing to preserve your health or even your life in a emergency situation.

Rick Iossi
flkitesurfer@hotmail.com

> I heard from a naish designer that there is another kitesurfer death in
> puerto rico. anyone have any news ? Would a helmet, leash, quick release
> or other simple safety device have avoided it ?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Jun 30, 2002 10:56 am 
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H Rick,

Since yesterday I can imagine what happened, because I similar accident happened while I was on the water.

The guy dropped his kite.
He couldn't get it up so I helped him.
Then it was up shortly and back to the water and I wondered.
I rode to him and he told me one line (depower line) broke.
I told him to get to the kite and swim in, so I took his board back to the shore.
When I came back I saw that the had let go of his kite at all and I went to the kite and brought it back to the beach.

When I met him at the beach I asked him what happened. He told me when he tried to swim to the bar and to wrap up only one line to get to the kite, he took the bar and the kiue got power and unfortunately one line was tangeled around his foot.
So he was dragged by the kite and couldn't breath. He was calm enough to grap the knife from his Dakine harness and cut the line at his foot.

I guess this or similar is what happened to the poor guy in PR.

So a knife is still one of the most important safety tools!

Take care guys!

Toby


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Jun 30, 2002 1:14 pm 
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Hello Toby,

Thank you for your perspective on this. Just because the rider wasn't tangled upon discovery doesn't mean that he hadn't been at one point. It is amazing how kite gear can become hopelessly tangled and then clear itself with time. The line burn may be a key clue as to what actually happened. Then again the rider may have lost consciousness due to internal, preexisting factors and been subsequently drown. Without any flotation the rider couldn't have easily rolled face down even if he was being dragged at a slow rate of speed. There is a good chance we may never know what exactly happened.

I think the incident that you helped in Toby should appear in the KSI. Could you tell me the location, rough date, relative rider experience, wind speed, gust conditions and relative direction, kite type and size, whether the rider had floatation on, type of kite leash, helmet and anything else that comes to mind?

Sorry for all the questions but I think your account is an important one and deserves telling.

Thanks,
Rick Iossi

A critical point in all of this is that Toby's explaination is quite plausible. Given that it is possible, it makes sense to me to try to avoid it happening again. Carrying a hook knife is only common sense. Guys, we are in the water, generally in wind and waves, with 120 m or about 400 ft. of line whipping around us up in the air. There have been cases when the kite has stalled over the rider and showered and wrapped him in line. There was another case where sinking leader line lead to a tangle. It is amazing that tangling incidents are not more common.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Jun 30, 2002 10:26 pm 
same experience for me today: in gusty conditions my kite stalled, several relaunch attempts failed and finally let the bar go being totally exhausted .. gusts came back again and I experienced for the first time the kites´ remaining power nevertheless having completely opened, connected by the saftey leash .. I felt massively uncomfortable on my way towards the kite along the steering lines.Heavy pull. Finally having reached the kite, I found myself wrapped by two lines and got quite nervous, riminding the drowned kiter .. I had reached a physical stage where nothing else might have happened aditionally ! I learnt two things: will reactivate my flotation west and buy a safety knife .. Don´t know if I´m a special case but besides safety I´d suggest the industry to focus a bit more on relaunch systems. For sure my intermediate CO2 relaunches good (compared to my AB I started with :wink:) if conditions are perfect.
But mostly they aren´t. I´ve to get happy in gusty 7-14 kots and therefor the classic way to relaunch a kite is really to be replaced.

aloha

Hangtimer


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Jun 30, 2002 10:27 pm 
same experience for me today: in gusty conditions my kite stalled, several relaunch attempts failed and finally let the bar go being totally exhausted .. gusts came back again and I experienced for the first time the kites´ remaining power nevertheless having completely opened, connected by the saftey leash .. I felt massively uncomfortable on my way towards the kite along the steering lines.Heavy pull. Finally having reached the kite, I found myself wrapped by two lines and got quite nervous, riminding the drowned kiter .. I had reached a physical stage where nothing else might have happened aditionally ! I learnt two things: will reactivate my flotation west and buy a safety knife .. Don´t know if I´m a special case but besides safety I´d suggest the industry to focus a bit more on relaunch systems. For sure my intermediate CO2 relaunches good (compared to my AB I started with :wink:) if conditions are perfect.
But mostly they aren´t. I´ve to get happy in gusty 7-14 kots and therefor the classic way to relaunch a kite is really to be replaced.

aloha

Hangtimer


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jul 01, 2002 3:39 am 
Hey Rick,

I just wanted to say "thank you" for all the work you are doing to try and spread the word about safety in kiteboarding. It is very much appreciated.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jul 01, 2002 1:39 pm 
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You are welcome, thanks for contributing. A complete response appears under "Improving Safety and Securing Access."

Rick Iossi


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