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Old 10-03-2012, 10:32 PM
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Default Kiteboarder Struck By Lightning

Details are still coming in but it sounds like this man may be the first kiteboarder on earth that has been struck by lightning that I have heard about. He was on land however, not riding, putting him in a much larger group of strike victims, thousands of people who have been injured on land. Unlike many of them he has survived his ordeal and is recovering in hospital. He was taking a break on land with his son from a kiting session. He was on Vilano Beach, FL just north of St. Augustine. I am still trying to learn more details about weather conditions before the strike and to confirm details. It seems his kite was on the ground and he was putting on his harness assisted by his son at the time of the lightning strike.



Vilano Beach, FL

"Falk Weltzien of St. Augustine was severely injured in a lightning strike at Vilano Beach on Monday afternoon.

According to a St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office report, Weltzien, 39, was with his son Kai, flying a large kite.

Kai told the deputy that he saw a flash of lightning and felt a tingle. He then looked at his father, who was wearing a harness with metal rings that attached strings to the kite, and saw he had fallen to the ground.

Two people on the beach, Kate Colton of Utah and Daniel Trubey of St. Augustine, witnessed the incident and came over to help.

Colton said she noticed Weltzien turning blue and foaming at the mouth, so she performed CPR on him. St. Johns County Rescue and deputies responded to the incident and assisted with the rescue.

Weltzien, who had burn marks on his left shoulder, was taken to Flagler Hospital. He was in stable condition Monday night.

Kai was evaluated but was apparently unharmed."

More at: http://staugustine.com/news/local-ne...o#.UG0DfI62fRg





In the interim, read over and carefully consider the following precautions:

http://www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov/outdoors.htm
http://www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov/sports.htm

Finally, lightning storms are common in Florida, they often accompany squalls with hazardous winds. Hazardous winds have killed and maimed far more kiters than lightning ever has. Still, only a fool would risk a strike. Read over the guidelines and use good sense.

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Last edited by RickI; 10-04-2012 at 10:48 AM.
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Old 10-04-2012, 06:44 AM
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Falk Weltzien is recovering at home and outwardly looks good. There can be serious internal problems that come with a lightning strike which hopefully he will be spared. You can see an interview with him at home at the link below:

http://www.news4jax.com/news/Man-rea...z/-/index.html


I just spoke with Eddie Toy of First Coast Kiteboarding & SUP, http://www.firstcoastsup.com/ , in northeast Florida. Eddie is a long time kiter and PASA instructor and has helped me with information on other kiting accidents over the years. He was doing a downwinder riding northward up the coast towards Vilano Beach. They had started about 12 miles south and ended up landing about 5 miles south of Vilano around 5 pm the time of the accident. Eddie tells me there was a cold front moving through that day with a moderate squall line. Considering this last point he was on the fence about going kiting but eventually decided to head out. Winds were side onshore around 18 to 25 mph. The cloud line was moving from inland offshore to the northeast. There was a low cloud ceiling but he could make out an anvil from a cumulonimbus cloud to the north. He said initially the clouds inland weren't much to look at on radar or to the naked eye but developed in height and apparent strength as they moved closer to the ocean. There was another cell to the south with an open area over Eddie and presumably Vilano Beach to the north. Once on the beach Eddie saw a lightning strike on shore to the north and suspects this may have been the one that figured in this accident.


From: http://www.nssl.noaa.gov/primer/ligh...tg_basics.html
From what Eddie described this bolt was one trailing the storm cloud.


I also spoke with Brian at Ocean Extreme Kites in St. Augustine. He indicated that local kiters have shown their concern and sent their regards to Falk. I understand he may be a very new arrival in the area within the last month.

Hope you fully recovery quickly Falk!
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Last edited by RickI; 10-04-2012 at 10:34 AM.
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Old 10-05-2012, 10:06 AM
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I finally was able to get the archive radar site to work. Here is a copy of the radar image around the time of the accident. The kiter was struck about 5 miles south southeast of the airport labeled "SGJ." You can see the two cells Eddie Toy was describing with the more serious of the two to the north and west of Vilano Beach. His description of the layout of the clouds looks pretty accurate.

So, the lightning bolt traveled several miles to strike the father and largely miss the son standing beside him. Considering the 30-30 Rule**, the distance wasn't that great.

They say the odds of being struck by lightning in Florida in a "normal" person's life are 3000 to 1. Now take that person, put them on flat beach or water surfaces, in proximity to squalls with some frequency, what are the odds now? For an even smaller, special group, have them kiting when their hair stands on end (a sign of an imminent lightning strike) , the control bar issues painful shocks and they can see static electricity arcs from the water when they jump. What do you think the odds might be for this last, special group? Think it over and about the weather conditions you will ride in, rider's choice.

More about lightning and precautions at:
http://www.preparemetrokc.org/know_t...verestorms.asp

Again, we are far more at risk of being hurt or killed by excessive winds related to a squall than by lightning. That has been our experience since the sport started. Despite that, why risk getting struck and dealing with the aftermath, assuming there is one.


** Lightning 30/30 rule: If it takes less than 30 seconds to hear thunder after seeing the flash, lightning is near enough to pose a threat (about 6 miles away although strikes out to 25 miles have happened); after the storm ends, wait 30 minutes before resuming outdoor activities.


My friend Karen reminded me just how important knowing CPR can be in preserving life and health when things go badly. She has made sure that both she and her children know these simple critical procedures. We should copy her good example and should take training ourselves. CPR saved Falk's life and many others including some kiters over the years.


Lightning Strike Victim First Aid

1. Call 911 for medical help or send for help immediately

2. Assess the situation

3. Check for breathing and heartbeat

4. Administer CPR

5. Address other Lightning Injuries

More details at: http://climbing.about.com/od/climber...tnFirstAid.htm

.
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Last edited by RickI; 10-05-2012 at 12:57 PM.
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Old 10-05-2012, 10:52 PM
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CPR is very easy to learn.

One thing that I didnt understand was that the 911 operator told the person to do 100 compressions. I was always taught 30 compressions then two breaths. I know we are taught that compressions are imprtant to keep the oxygen flowing to the brain. Does anyone know why 100 compressions was directed?
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Old 10-06-2012, 08:05 AM
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From the American Heart Association:

"Hands-Only CPR is CPR without mouth-to-mouth breaths. It is recommended for use by people who see
a teen or adult suddenly collapse in an “out-of-hospital” setting (such as at home, at work or in a park).

It consists of two easy steps:

- Call 9-1-1 (or send someone to do that).
- Push hard and fast in the center of the chest."

Here is a short video:




More at:
http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/CPRAnd...440810_FAQ.jsp
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Old 10-08-2012, 09:09 AM
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We experience some electrical phenomena while kitesurfing, just not apparently all such phenomena like inducing lightning strikes, to date anyway. Why is this?

Spectra and Dyneema kite lines are poor electrical conductors comprised of Ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene. If they are coated with salt and moisture the conductance may improve somewhat but how much? Looking at the example of most incidents involving one of our kites hitting high tension power lines, the lines conduct so poorly that they melt (and often the kite catches on fire). In some cases the kiter may suffer some flash burns but isn't electrocuted which you would expect with a reasonable conductor. I have read of kite related electrocutions when different line material was used say like nylon fishing line. Note to self, don't use nylon fishing line to fly kites! Folks have fired rockets into storm clouds trailing a copper filament and have nicely induced a linear bolt of lightning down the filament to the ground.

We know that kites and lines can have static discharges. These seem to occur both in conditions of immanent lightning strikes and in other potentially less threatening conditions. The static discharges appear to be caused by the Electret Effect and the line moving through aerosols.

A good question is, can our kite and line setups in kitesurfing attract stepped leaders from clouds and in turn lightning strikes? Falk apparently at less than seven feet in height did this on an open beach but I understand people are better conductors than kitesurfing system materials and a person's head may be pointier than a blunt, poorly conducting kite. The apparent lack of such an event seems to support the low probably of such a thing happening and yet there are the static discharges described above. It is important to note that untold numbers of people have been struck on level surface through time, no tall conductor necessary much less a kite. As such I would think a planning kiter might be struck regardless of having a kite up or not by virtue of having an induced positive charge and being the highest, pointy object in the vicinity. Thoughts?



Some background on induced charges and lightning.
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