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ricki 04-01-2008 10:11 AM

Incredible Lofting Story From The Great Lakes

From SBC Kiteboard Magazine
By Rick Iossi

In October 2006 three guys went kiting in the Great Lakes and encountered severe weather. One rider was almost killed after being lofted into water but thanks to the capable intercession of his friends, he pulled through and recovered.

Unusual lake effect snow was predicted and 50 mph winds were forecast a few days before. Gusty, shifting winds averaging around 18 mph heralded an approaching cold front. Air and water temperatures were both about 40 F. Some experienced riders had decided to pass on riding that day due to concern over conditions.

The wind was offshore at the normal spot so they took an inflatable boat ride about ½ mile across a channel to an exposed sand bar to setup around 2:30 pm. Paul was very experienced, while Jason and another rider we’ll call Ralph had a season or so of kiting. Paul and Ralph rigged 5th line “C” 12 m kites (black and yellow kites respectively) while Jason rigged a 4 line red “C” 12 m kite.
Actual winds may have been higher than shown above.

A. Patterson, another kiter was mulling over whether to launch or not. Instead he chose to grab a digital SLR with 300 mm telephoto lens to shoot the three guys riding about ½ mile on the far side of the channel.

A “Dry” cold front or one lacking a leading edge squall line was inbound. No thunder, lightning or notable precipitation was reported with the arrival of this front. There were dark clouds and a drop in light and temperature. Strong frontal winds and frequent 90 degree direction shift can arrive with cold fronts. These factors cost the life of a Connecticut kiterboarder. More about Weather, Fronts and Kiteboarding in Spring 2005 SBC Kiteboard magazine, reproduced at:

The three kiters were riding by around 3:30 pm. Thanks to A. Patterson’s excellent photography there is a detailed, time stamped record of what transpired. At 4:31:06 pm the wind gusted lofting Paul and causing Ralph to slam his kite into the water. Clouds darkened and white caps and waves appeared. A 40 mph gust was recorded a few miles away but due to local effects it could have been into the 50 mph+ range due to local conditions at the launch.


Jason had ridden about 600 ft. upwind. He may have lost his board in the early gusts and was dragging with his kite near the zenith. Paul successfully released his QR in mid loft, activated his 5th line and depowered his kite for most of the incident. Reportedly Ralph couldn’t release his QR but in time activated his 5th line as well. As his kite was near the water unlike the other two riders he was dragged and not lofted.

At 4:32:05 pm while Paul was dealing with his depowered kite in the shallows and Ralph was dragged downwind, Jason was lofted into the photo frame. Jason was approximately 40 ft. off the water, traveling up at a 35 degrees holding the control bar. The sky is dark and heavy vapor is being ripped by gusting winds from the lake’s surface. It is estimated Jason was lofted at approximately 4:32:03 pm (referred to as “Time” or “T” ).

At T+4 seconds (4:32:07 pm) Jason slams forward into the water and detonating a massive splash, 50 ft. long and 25 ft. high. He was likely knocked unconscious at this point. Jason was lofted horizontally about 200 ft.+, 40 ft.+ high and was traveling over 30 mph at time of impact with the water. He wore a Protec helmet that apparently flew off following water impact likely after cushioning some of the impact. He was wearing an impact vest which may have minimized other injury.

After Jason splashed in, he was repeated yanked up and hurled at high speed and force against the water by the strong gusts. His upper body appears to be held out of the water by the overpowered conditions and high angle of kite. Ralph was dragging nearby with his kite on the 5th line.

At about T+27 seconds (4:32:32 pm), winds lightened and the sky cleared slightly. Jason’s kite slowly rises and passes through the zenith lifting him four feet above the water like a rag doll apparently unconscious. The kite continues to arc shoreward and slowly drags Jason there. The lighter force from the kite allows Jason’s head to submerge beneath the water. As he had no reported fluid in his lungs he likely wasn’t breathing prior to this time. Eventually his kite went over the beach and lodged low in the trees. Jason had been dragged ashore with his head on the sand and his feet in the water. The exact time the kite went ashore is unknown from the photos but at T+9 minutes 43 seconds (4:41:46 pm) you can see Paul’s boat beached near Jason and with Paul apparently administering CPR. Jason had traveled a substantial distance down the shore, perhaps 3000 ft. before beaching. Ralph was still dealing with his own problems and eventually drifted by Jason as he was being dragged into the beach. It is impressive that Paul made it to Jason less than 10 minutes after the gusts hit the riders. Ralph ran up and rushed off to go to his boat near the launch to call for help.

Paul said Jason’s face was very blue, was not breathing, had no pulse and was essentially dead. Paul kicked into emergency mode and started CPR and gave it his all to near exhaustion. He had to shift to using his knee for compressions near the end he was so tired. Jason revived after at least 10 minutes of intense CPR. Jason response was miraculous given the poor reported survival rate for similar victims. Way to go Paul, truly a life saver!!!

Help arrived by boat thanks to Ralph’s efforts. Reportedly, Jason “flat lined” twice more on the way to the hospital. The ambulance staff gave the impression that Jason wouldn’t make it, but he did. He was 43 and in excellent shape. Still you can’t keep someone like Jason down for long and with time and a lot of effort he has worked his way back. There was lots of support from local kiteboarders with 20 or more in his hospital room many times.

I recently spoke to Jason. He is a very positive, intelligent guy loving life and happy to be back. He had his first kiteboarding session since the accident in early July 2007 and is anxious to get more time on the water. Jason lost memory of about a month of his life around the accident. He suffered four broken ribs, a collapsed lung, Diffuse Axonal brain injury and was in the hospital for a month. Diffuse axonal injury can be a particularly severe and debilitating type of brain injury. He was in a coma for the first day in the hospital. He lost some vision in his left eye. He was bed ridden and couldn’t walk for the first month. He had to learn to walk again.

After about three weeks he realized he had no short term memory (sort of like in the movie “50 First Dates”). Remember “Hi, my name is Tom” from the movie? Jason actually did that at times introducing people around the room and then going to start over. It took him months to get his energy back. He had to sleep for 18 hours a day for three months. He started to suffer panic attacks even though he had a history of handling stress very well. He has a lot of responsibilities, running a company, has a family, is a concert level pianist, professional magician. He was worried that he might not be able to still play the piano but discovered that gift was intact shortly after leaving the hospital.

It took about seven months for Jason’s life to get back to normal, emotionally, mentally and physically. He felt getting back out to kiteboarding made his recovery complete. His sessons just keep getting better. Jason loves kiteboarding so much, nothing else comes close. “When the wind is perfect, the sun is setting, you’re in a flock of birds and you’re ripping along, there is nothing quite as sweet.”

How to try to avoid something like this?

A. WEATHER, be thoroughly knowledgeable about strong & excessively gusty weather in your area. Check reliable forecasts, weather maps, color radar/satellite images and real time winds upweather (only takes minutes). At the launch, watch for changing conditions and react well in advance of substantial temperature, wind speed or direction alterations. Work to anticipate and avoid hazardous weather. Experience has shown reacting in the face of weather hazards is a bad idea. These guys ran out of time to react. If unusual or violent conditions are forecast, blow off riding. More about this at the link above.

B. EMERGENCY KITE DEPOWERING, make it second nature with whatever kite you are using. Rehearse in your head and practice, “if this happens I’ll do this … EARLY“, regularly. Anyone can freeze in the shock of a lofting, regular practice may help you to act instead of locking up. Learning how to jump may also help your reactions.

C. WATER CAN HURT TOO, just because you are well away from land doesn’t mean you can’t be injured. Some think by avoiding land they can weather most storms, wrong. Guys have been lofted substantial distances into land and even hitting water can seriously mess you up.

D. SAFETY GEAR, wear a good helmet, impact vest and carry reasonable safety gear. Jason’s trauma might have been even worse without a helmet and vest. Have reliable emergency communication, by pay phone, cell, marine radio.

E. RIDE WITH FRIENDS, kite with people who know you and your habits. The capable team response of Paul and Ralph was a critical factor in Jason’s survival. Knowing CPR and first aid is a good thing for everyone and made the difference between life and death in this case.

admin 08-25-2009 09:38 AM

Wanted to bring this incredible story back up to the top. Lots of hard won lessons in this one, not the least of which is the importance of knowing how to properly perform CPR.

ricki 08-11-2011 09:31 AM

This story doesn't involve kiting but a drowning of a young boy and thankfully the successful efforts to revive him. It has this in common with the kiting accident described above.

" Last Friday afternoon a large church youth group from Spanaway was visiting the beach off the Cranberry Beach approach in Long Beach, WA.

Shannon Kissel and his daughter Nicole were boogie-boarding nearby when they saw two boys were in need of help. While they were able to retrieve one boy, they were not able to rescue Dale Ostrander, who was caught in a rip tide. It was about 10 minutes until the surf rescue team was on scene.

Twenty-plus kids from the youth group sobbed uncontrollably and prayed on the sand during the search, a truly heart-wrenching sound. It was then at least another 15 minutes or so before rescue swimmer Eduardo Mendez spotted Ostrander, and he and swimmer Will Green were able to grab him and pull him aboard a jet ski.

Seconds later at the shore, Doug Knutzen carried him up to where paramedics were waiting to treat him. They were on the beach for another 10 minutes trying to revive him. I think it's safe to say that everyone was certain Ostrander was dead. But the crew continued to work on him, and apparently once they got to the hospital they were able to get a weak pulse and get him breathing again.

Ostrander was air-lifted to Portland for treatment. After he was put in an induced coma for a couple days, he woke up.

And today (Aug. 9) they removed his breathing tube. Not only did Ostrander breath on his own, but he spoke complete sentences. Amazing. This boy was dead for upward of 20 minutes, easily.

From the blog At 4:11 pm today "The doctors just removed Dale's breathing tube and he is now breathing on his own. Also, because of possible damage to the brain, they were unsure if he would be able to speak. Minutes after the tube was removed, the doctors told him to cough. Not only did Dale talk back to the doctors, he responded in a full sentence saying, “I don't have to.”

Dale continues to get better by the minute, and the doctors are more and more amazed!""

Continued at:

ricki 10-08-2013 09:31 AM

I see and hear of kiters still heading out into squalls. Most don't experience much, some are becalmed, sent offshore with a wind shift and some are maimed or killed. You never know how things will workout in advance, what the wind will do, speed and direction changes. One thing is certain, some will react too late to help themselves and chance will sort things out after. Some say to go away from shore with an incoming squall as opposed to landing early, emergency depowering and packing in, etc.. Here is a case where a guy came close to being killed by water or being lofted up and blown into water at high speed. Bottom line, stay away from squalls (thunderstorms).

admin 11-16-2020 01:40 PM

Rest in peace Jason Maloney. We never met but I do recall speaking with you after your squall lofting accident and 3000 ft dragging while unconscious in 2006. It was miraculous you survived that horrific accident including responding to CPR which has a relatively low success rate. It is impressive that you were able to rehabilitate from those injuries so successfully. From what I’ve heard you were a charger and a record big booster, hard at it all the time. The thing is some storms can undo the best among us. The second storm was simply too much and Luck wasn’t on board this time. The storm was well forecast but apparently arrived a bit sooner than folks expected. It caused wide devastation through the area. Anyway, rest in peace, strength to your family and friends and for the rest of us, stay out of squalls. You never know just how strong they will be until they are upon you.

admin 11-16-2020 01:41 PM

From Facebook:

My dear friend Jason Maloney (nickname ghostrider in the community),
I will never forget you, your passion for kiteboarding was through the roof, I have never met someone who kite as much as you per year, you had the world record actually, this was so amazing!!!!
I have never seen you with a sad face, never! And always saw you with a huge smile and spiking eyes when you were around one of those windy lakes in Ontario 🇨🇦.
You were this king of the air, a legend who registered 1301 sessions on the #woo WOO Kite, beating all records, 180 hours in the air, jumping over 20m high...
Your lovely windy sport took you today, gone, gone forever. The wind that you loved so much and lived for took him away from us forever, so so so sad, but you will never be forgotten!!!
RIP Jason.
I will miss you a lot buddy!
Love you.

Pascal Laplace

Please feel free to donate if you can to help out in this very difficult time, thank you 💕

#kiteboarding #kitesurf #kitelife #kite #kiteaddicted #canada #lake #ontario #ozonekites Ozone Kites FLYSURFER Kiteboarding AlpineFoil #flysurfer #alpinefoil #flyingman

admin 11-16-2020 08:46 PM

A video from the scene showing the violent storm posted by Pascal. Caution: this may show part of the lofting.

This may be a gust front or strait line winds from a microburst associated with the cold front squall line.

admin 11-18-2020 02:35 PM

I had forgotten about this article I had written about kiting and "Cold Fronts" in 2005 for SBC Kiteboard Magazine. This was a year before Jason's first near fatal accident. I felt compelled to write it building on existing resources for kiteboarders in the USA following a snow kiter fatality in Canada that year. I had a column in the publication for about five years and covered weather topics among others regularly. I setup this unedited version on kiteboarding weather planning and monitoring with hyperlinks for both Canadian and USA Internet weather sites. People today tend to fixate a bit too much on the "wind forecast by the hour" resources without looking deeper into simple, accessible and very important radar, sat and hazard sites. Those few minutes may save a lot of time later, hassle, even your life on some unlucky day.

Please read it over and do both weather planning and monitoring routinely. Today there are even more weather sites available online including some very good ones. Please be sure to look at all the subject areas listed below by the numbers even if on newer sites. It isn't complex but is fairly quick and easy to do. As Jason's accident reaffirms we can still be hurt by high wind emergencies plus it should reduce both weather waiting and the level of uncertainty about what and when to expect developments.

"Cold Fronts" An EDITED version of the following was printed in SBC Kiteboard Magazine, Vol. 6, Issue #2, Spring 2005 (SBC Kiteboard is no more unfortunately, although the Time Machine Web Archive may show you something).

Cold fronts come with regularity throughout much of the year. They consist of a cooler air mass moving into and beneath a warmer air mass. The upward movement of the warm air at the leading edge of the front can generate a squall line as shown, around 50 to 200 miles ahead of the front. Squall lines have been stated to contain some of the most turbulent and violent weather known. Fronts can travel on average around 30 mph but can move as high as 60 mph over ground. In some areas squall warnings are sufficient reason for small craft to return to safe harbor.

Fronts can bring sudden strong gusty weather with or without squalls, wind shifts, lightening and more. Alternatively, the wind may just spike with a vengeance without storms (as shown in the wind plot below). Forecasts may or may not be accurate so it is important to stay aware of changing conditions.

Kiteboarders may be the only folks flying a parachute-like device the size of a station wagon as potentially strong forecast frontal winds move in that can capsize a boat!? Weather planning and monitoring are JUST as important in kiteboarding as they are to airplane pilots and blue water sailors. Know your weather, the forecast and developing conditions and react, EARLY. Accident experience has shown that when suddenly hit by overpowering winds, kiteboarders have frequently failed to successfully depower their kites.
From: ikitesurf

Let say you rig up for conditions shown above prior to the arrival of the cold front. Ignore the time of the wind spike, fronts can strike 24 hours per day. This same front lofted four riders at about 9:30 am about 135 miles further south. You are on your 16 m kite riding 100 yards offshore and the frontal winds hit, suddenly. The wind boosts from 15 mph to 43 mph+. You are on a 16 m and unless you are unhooked and let go, chances are your butt is toast. The kite is now imparting at least 9 TIMES the power that it was just before everything hit the fan. You may be lofted, very high, dragged or both, faster than you can safety react. (2020 Note: Do that same approximation for wind gusts ranging from 50 to 70 mph as may have been the case in Jason's accident. Blinding force and speed, often so much as to defying reaction in time.)

If you drop your kite to leash successfully it is possible with powerful systems that the leash attachment may be ripped away from you and off goes your kite. If your leash attachment doesn't rip free, your kite may have enough residual power even though you have dropped it to leash in such a gust (mid 40 mph+), to drag you anyway. (2020 Note), So, be ready to release the lot, after dropping it to the leash, EARLY. Have a hook knife to try to cut free if there are tangles. The longer you wait, the more uncertain the outcome, avoiding the hazard in the first place is key. Be prepared to use your strong swimming skills, impact vest and adequate exposure clothing to pack down and swim in. Don't confuse yourself with a deep sea vessel riding out storms in blue water - they don't get lofted but we do. Jason's accident in 2006 should have put thoughts of "riding the storm out at sea" with kite flying to rest but unfortunately, it has not.

Here are a few ideas on how to try to manage these conditions during cold fronts. You still may get caught and slammed if you allow it, as can always happen if you have a traction kite up, but it should reduce the odds of a predicted event getting the better of you. There are similar sites and resources in other parts of the world and a tremendous amount of weather information out there. Learn what is available and reliable in your area and work to avoid your own high wind emergency.

1. Check forecasts on (USA) and (Canada) for your area.

What are the predicted winds, gusts, direction and are storms expected? What does the weather map show in terms of cold fronts? (see Check for WEATHER HAZARD WARNINGS for your area and points up weather from your location. Carefully consider the warning and accept that actual conditions may exceed predicted wind speeds and gust ranges, sometimes by a lot and with different timing. Is a cold front forecast, if so when is expected to arrive and with what change in conditions? Be sure to check the marine forecast if you are near the coast. What are temperatures likely to be? It may be fine now but do you need to be in a 4/3 mm wetsuit or more later on today? Cold fronts can bring a dramatic drop in air temperature. People have died due to exposure being in the water longer than they anticipate, so dress well. Read the weather analysis to better understand what is bringing the wind in the first place in your area. IMPORTANT: Kiteboarders have been flown into trouble by gusts less than 15 mph above background windspeed. It doesn’t have to spike to 60 mph for you to be injured, far from it. Not all weather events will carry warnings, with some being quite localized. It is up to kiteboarders to try to anticipate conditions even if there are no excessive wind warnings posted.

2. Checkout the Sat. imagery at: (USA) and (Canada).
Use the loop function if available to get a feeling for movement and obvious development. Click on your area to get a better picture of local activity. Is there a line of clouds (possible squall line), shown at the leading edge of the front?

3. Checkout color radar to look for CURRENT storm cells and direction of travel of clouds at: (USA) and (Canada).
Be sure to scope out your area and areas up stream through which the cold front is moving. See some bright colored stuff? Is it fairly narrow at the leading edge of the front (as in the case of a squall line) or is it spread around? Avoid the brightly colored stuff as it can represent violent storms. The green stuff can also punch out some gusts too, enough to loft and or drag you so don't get complacent about that color either. Relate what you are seeing to what appears on the Satellite image. More about more in depth radar interpretation appears on the above websites.

4. Checkout realtime winds at: and local websites
Look over your area and those areas that the front is or has recently passed over, ALWAYS. Look at the individual wind records for stations to see if there are some strong gust spikes and erratic direction changes such as shown above. Try to relate these unstable winds to what you saw in the satellite and radar images. Are you dealing with a narrow strip of unstable weather with a squall line or is it more of a sudden boost in wind with a dry front or is it something different still? When in doubt, sit it out.

5. While you're at the beach, keep your eyes open for signs of the onset of frontal winds. ALWAYS be aware of the wind, clouds, lines of white caps, ripples, direction, gusts, etc., regardless of season. It will help you to get the better rides and perhaps avoid a bad go to. Be sure to act EARLY, many injured and lost riders simply waited too long

AVOID having a kite up during the onset of a strong front with associated change in winds. This has been a common practice among mariners for a long time. Of course not all fronts are kick butt, so what kind do you KNOW FOR A FACT do you have moving in? Most don't know for sure, it is best to err on the side of caution. If you see signs of a front coming, advancing white water, threatening cloud masses, a ripple line, etc. It might be good to land and secure until it is past. Of course with ripple and white water lines, by the time you see them you may have less than few minutes if it is moving a mile a minute before the winds spike. Remember the "lull before the storm." These actually happen often enough. A number of severely injured kiters rigged larger kites in the lull just to be hit by an explosion of gusting winds. ALSO, you may need to RIG DOWN to be able to ride once and if the frontal winds spike up. So, land, secure and wait for the passage of the squall line and return of more stable winds.

Check this stuff before you ride, always. Learn to relate what you saw online vs. what developed at the beach to build your weather sense. Talk to local fishermen, sailors and other long time nautical types that pay attention to the weather to learn more about your local conditions.

Sounds complicated? Not really, you can blast through the steps listed above fairly rapidly. Most riders I know are wind junkies and knowing what brings the blow stuff is just another part of the obsession. So why not dive in and get a handle on what brings the joy and the dodgy bits that need to be avoided. Further information related to this article appears at:

Get plugged into weather where you ride. You will be glad you did. There is a lot to know to kiteboard, some of the stuff listed above is just part of it.


**Analysis of the storm that resulted in the snow kiteboarder fatality at Alberta Beach

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