Kiteboardmilwaukee.com -Voice of Experience

.. or "Lucky to be alive"

While at the OBX in June, we saw a guy nearly die kiting. Here is the story.

I had just broke a line on my kite and noticed an obviously new kiter to my left. I was obviously in his way. I dealt with my kite and lines and he was gone. About 15 minutes later, he was back in the water at the same spot where I saw him before. The water was less than waist deep and he was walking back in to shore with his kite in the air. I went over and apologized for getting in his way. I explained a line broke etc. He was cool about it and way stoked to be kiting. He said "today is the day I stay upwind!!"

At that point, I failed as a kiter. I didn't warn him about walking back upwind on land with his kite in the air. He could have walked in in the less than knee deep water and still been plenty away from the POWER LINES. And since he must have done it the previous time I saw him, I didn't.

So, I go about my business and not 1 minute later, I see Michael freaking out that the guy's kite is too close to the power lines. I turn and look, and I'm not sure, because I can't judge depth that well blah, blah, blah. Then it happens. The kite folds across one wire and catches on the second. BOOM! A yellow flash. I run towards the kiter. I can't see him because he is obscured by a jeep on the beach. Sparks. He comes into view as he is pulling his bypass leash safety. He is alive and standing up. Wow. How the..? As his kites tumbles off the power lines, his bar is now sliding up to them. His kite is falling INTO THE HIGHWAY. Cars either don't see it or what? No one is slowing down. I'm now running at the highway. Luckily, the breeze takes the kite over the highway as cars finally stop. A truck pulls off. We get to the kite at the same time. Holes have burned through the canopy and lines. The bar is still up there. It smells bad. The kiter makes it over and points at his booties saying "they saved my life! Feel 'um. They're warm."

The guy in the truck says you better take the evidence and get outta here. The kiter dismissively responds "What are they going to do? Arrest me?"

Those of us not almost killed go back to kiting. Safely. First we discuss the events and replay what we saw. How did he not get fried when the kite was burning on the power lines and he was still attached to the kite? He did the right thing by pulling his safeties. I guess I just don't know enough about electricity to explain it.

Within ten minutes, hard hats appear. Mr. Dude kiter has not left, he has not packed up, as a matter of fact, his kite is splayed out all over the beach. Ten minutes after that, some type of park ranger is there asking Mr. Dude questions and writing things down in what appears to be a citation book.

Later, back in town, we learn the power went out and there were rumors that if you blow up a transformer, you have to pay for it. At least Mr. Dude lived. Someone, please learn from this.

-Stafford

Michael pulled out his camera just in time to catch the 2nd half. The pictures show The kite falling off the power lines and the bar hanging in the lines. And some hardhats showing up pretty soon.
the kite after exploding the front bladder and some orange flash between the lines. you can see the burnt material on the left bottom part of the image.

the bar in the power lines after the accident.
the dude upwinds
hardhats discussing what to do and how to get the bar down from the lines.
the spot, he was walking on the ground with the kite up in the air, wind was slightly onshore.