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Old 02-11-2005, 09:02 AM
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Default Serious Head Injury

On Friday, January 28, 2005 a 185 lb. a well experienced kiteboarder was rigging up to go kiteboarding. He was near the NE corner of Cable Beach, Nassau, Bahamas as shown on the map. The launch is known as Go Slow Bend for the nearby roadway to the east. In NE winds it is a popular launch for smooth water in side to side offshore winds with a lee shore in the distance to land on if necessary.


Nassau and the location of Cable Beach on the north central coast.

The wind had been mainly sideshore from the NE at around 20 to 25 kts and building slightly. The weather was partially cloudy with no storms in the area.



The rider was anxious to go kiteboarding as he had not had the opportunity for a free riding session for a while. He considered not going out given the strengthening wind conditions but decided to go anyway. Another kiteboarder gave him an assisted launch with his 8 m inflatable kite at a point northwest of the rider with both of them on the beach adjacent to the water at about 2 pm.


In the area north of the launch looking to the NE.

It was at low tide and the bottom nearshore consisted of more or less level hard bottom with sand pockets and scattered small rocks. The area was well covered over with sand until the hurricanes blew through last summer.


The view to the west southwest from the launch across Cable Beach.

The wind was NE or sideshore at time of launch at about 20 kts and gusted and then lulled while shifting more easterly. At this point the wind was OFFSHORE blowing the kiter away from the land. This caused the kite to initially power up and then drift downwind to the west closer to the center of the wind window when the wind gusted strongly to about 27 kt.


I understand that the weather resembled what is shown above. These represent, dangerous supercell squalls with the potential to toss out far stronger winds that actually happened on this day. Winds over 60 kts. aren't that uncommon in such storms with violent direct changes.

The rider had the sick sinking feeling rush over him at this point and started to unhook and pull the bar to steer the kite downwind away from shore. He was lofted about 3 ft. off the surface a short distance and then landed on his back. He was dragged across the shallows a distance of approximately 30 m at about 30 mph. He had a Dakine moveable spreader bar which he credited with aiding him in unhooking and releasing the kite. His spreader bar and kite leash attachment ripped free from his harness as it was damaged during the dragging resulting in the kite flying away. The kite flew off and landed on the beach on the far side of the bay.

The rider suffered serious scalp lacerations possibly from scraping across the bottom along with other injuries. He managed to stumble into shore and await the arrival of the ambulance.





*** WARNING: GRAPHIC INJURY PHOTOS FOLLOW ***














.
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Old 02-11-2005, 09:04 AM
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The rider suffered serious scalp lacerations requiring 20 stitches and about 40 staples as shown in the photos below.







He also broke his shoulder, collar bone and fractured a vertabra. He is having trouble seeing out of his right eye at present. The kiteboarder was in hospital for 7 days and was released about a week ago.

It seems unlikely given the speed of travel thatthe kiter hit an actual rock head first but more likely suffered severe abrasions and lacerations while scraping across the hard uneven rock bottom nearshore.

He is planning on making custom kiteboards (with one arm until his shoulder heals) and shooting kiteboarding photography as he recovers.

The rider plans to condition through swimming and rehab then climb back on the horse that threw him (kiteboarding) as he really loves the sport and beat the fear demons out of himself.

He tells me he is going to hand out copies of one of those scalp injury photos to others in the future along with a warning to wear a helmet when kiteboarding. He told me this story because he wants to try to help other people to avoid going through something like this.
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Old 02-11-2005, 09:04 AM
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Happier times with his son.

Some comments on this accident follow:

1. The rider almost chose not to kiteboard because of the strengthening wind conditions. Sometimes it is best to go with your gut in things and as they say, "live to kite another day."
If conditions seem to be excessively gusty carefully consider not riding.

2. Try to pick a kite and line setup suitable for anticipated winds targeting the lower to mid wind range max.
Avoid intentionally or accidently going out in overpowered conditions.

3. Work to ALWAYS launch UNHOOKED.
Practice the technique in more moderate winds, it isn't that complex or hard to do. Learn to trim your kite for max depower feasible while still maintaining stable flight for the kite size and wind speed to better manage the kite load. If you have an acceptable downwind buffer if you need to you just drop your kite to the leash and depower it ideally with no problems. Practice "just letting go" in an emergency as opposed to clinging to the bar like grim death.

4. It would have been better had the kiter and his helper walked out into the shallows well away from shore before launching. He indicated a 1 m depth of water was about 70 m offshore. It sounds like the hurricanes moved most of the soft sandy bottom out of the shallows. Finding a sandy verge in a reasonable riding area may be difficult off some parts of the island at this point. If there is an area with side to side onshore clean winds with a sand bottom it would be better to launch and ride there, if such an area can be readily accessed.

5. As the kiter says, ALWAYS WEAR A HELMET, a good one suitable for kiteboarding and use an impact vest while you're at it. These simple aids may not help in a severe accident but then again they may make an important difference in the outcome and recovery. A good helmet might have lessened the abrasion and impact scalp injuries in this accident.

One thing is certain, if you don't use safety gear it will do you NO GOOD whatsoever.


People have said helmets make them look bad.


Do you really think having your scalp look like this rider's would make you feel more cool?



Thank God the injuries are mainly above the hairline and he should have his good looks back in no time.

Get a good SKID LID for kiteboarding, wear it when ever you ride and forget it is on. The last part comes naturally for most people.

Take good care and heal fully and fast. Thanks for sharing your story to try to help your fellow riders. Good luck with your board fabrication and be sure to post some of your photos.
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Old 02-14-2005, 01:14 PM
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I wanted to repost some ideas here about helmet use from another couple of posts.

Also, there are some recent photos of the rider at the bottom of this posting. Fortunately, he seems to be healing rapidly although he is working to bring a scalp infection under control via an IV drip. Heal fully and fast!



Quote:
Originally Posted by Morph
is it really usefull an helmet? I ve tried it once but it really wasnt confortable.
I never heard someone crashed it's skull with kitboarding and i'm very timide myself so I don't think I need one. Any sugestions?

Thnx

Unfortunately, there have been quite a few head injuries in kiteboarding including some fatal ones. You can read about some of them HERE

There is NO guarrantee that a helmet will save you from injury or even assure your survival in a bad enough impact. Still, in many impacts they can do a tremendous amount of good. Helmets are far more resilent than our relatively fragile skulls, which would you rather bounce or scrape on things? If you picked your skull or do, think again.

One of these days, helmet use will likely be fairly common in kiteboarding. The problem is that people will need to see a fair amount of blood letting to compel them to undertake this simple precuation. Any volunteers for suffering some head impacts? Some among us will have such head injuries whether we volunteer or not. So, gear up now or blow this off until more nasty avoidable injuries occur. Tough decision or so it would seem.

The best safety is using good judgment, gear, knowledge and experience. Helmets and impact vests just improve the odds, sometimes a lot.
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Old 02-14-2005, 01:14 PM
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I wanted to repost some ideas here about helmet use from another couple of posts.

Also, there are some recent photos of the rider at the bottom of this posting. Fortunately, he seems to be healing rapidly although he is working to bring a scalp infection under control via an IV drip. Heal fully and fast!



Quote:
Originally Posted by Morph
is it really usefull an helmet? I ve tried it once but it really wasnt confortable.
I never heard someone crashed it's skull with kitboarding and i'm very timide myself so I don't think I need one. Any sugestions?

Thnx

Unfortunately, there have been quite a few head injuries in kiteboarding including some fatal ones. You can read about some of them HERE

There is NO guarrantee that a helmet will save you from injury or even assure your survival in a bad enough impact. Still, in many impacts they can do a tremendous amount of good. Helmets are far more resilent than our relatively fragile skulls, which would you rather bounce or scrape on things? If you picked your skull or do, think again.

One of these days, helmet use will likely be fairly common in kiteboarding. The problem is that people will need to see a fair amount of blood letting to compel them to undertake this simple precuation. Any volunteers for suffering some head impacts? Some among us will have such head injuries whether we volunteer or not. So, gear up now or blow this off until more nasty avoidable injuries occur. Tough decision or so it would seem.

The best safety is using good judgment, gear, knowledge and experience. Helmets and impact vests just improve the odds, sometimes a lot.
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Old 02-14-2005, 01:14 PM
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A question came up in another post, I thought it was worthwhile to copy it here:

quote="fourperf"]You will hit your head kiteboarding[/quote]

how so bro?[/quote]

Let's count some of the ways. Many of these have little to do with experience by the way. Not everyone will suffer head injuries only some of us. Now tell me who, in advance, OK? That way ONLY the guys that are going to get bashed will need to bother with lids, simple!?

- Sudden strong wind gust

- Rigging too large a kite for conditions

- Sudden change in wind direction

- Rigging your lines in reverse

- In the OLD days using a board leash, although the board could easily miss the helmet and could hit your throat, spine, torso, wherever. Not a lot of people use leashes anymore anyway, right?

- Miscontrolling your bar

- Launching your kite with the bar upside down

- Having a jump extended on to shore

- Being knocked over by a wave

- A line tangle on launch

- A line snag on launch, say with a stick

- A line tangle caused by strumming in stronger winds

- Having an assistant screw up an assisted launch or landing, releasing too soon, throwing the kite, loosing thier hold on the kite, slipping, grabbing the wrong part of the kite

- Slipping on the bottom and falling over at speed

- Trying to climb up some rocks to exit the water

- Chicken loop breakage

- Someone tangling their kite lines with yours and releasing their bar

- Being uplift lofted when your kite passes over a vertical surface in onshore winds.

- Someone grabbing your bar or lines unexpectedly

- Jumping a hard object and having the wind change or merely setup the jump wrong

- Hitting a floating limb or other flotsum

- Having a wave propel your board or someone elses into you

- Jumping using a kite on land

etc.



That is all that I can REMEMBER for now. That is these have ALREADY caused people to be injured and in some cases killed. None of these are made up. The victims have ranged from newbies to some VERY experienced kiteboarders.


So, who needs helmets?


and


These photos were taken by the rider yesterday. He will continue to heal over time, the hair will grow back fairly rapidly still this is not a great experience for anyone to have to go through. Thanks to this kiteboarder for sharing his experience in the hope of sparing some other guys from having to go through this.





Be careful out there, learn what precautions to employ and use them even if you feel you need to hurry. While you are at it, get a good helmet for kiteboarding, impact vest and wear them WHENEVER you kiteboard. This rider usually wore a helmet, just not this time. Safety gear is for just in case.
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Old 02-25-2005, 09:28 AM
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I just spoke with the rider and he said he is feeling much better, strong and positive. His doctor was impressed by how rapidly his neck fractures are fusing. He is on a new diet to try to aid the healing and is working through a physical rehab routine to help things along. His right eye is still blurry with distant objects and he thinks he may have to go in for glasses. His knee is also acting up a bit still. The doctor has told him he needs to stay off the water for another month. He was grateful to be alive despite the severity of the accident and to be healing so rapidly. Thanks for all the positive thoughts out there!
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Old 02-25-2005, 09:28 AM
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I just spoke with the rider and he said he is feeling much better, strong and positive. His doctor was impressed by how rapidly his neck fractures are fusing. He is on a new diet to try to aid the healing and is working through a physical rehab routine to help things along. His right eye is still blurry with distant objects and he thinks he may have to go in for glasses. His knee is also acting up a bit still. The doctor has told him he needs to stay off the water for another month. He was grateful to be alive despite the severity of the accident and to be healing so rapidly. Thanks for all the positive thoughts out there!
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Old 03-31-2005, 04:04 PM
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I just got an update from the rider. He says he feels great now that he is back on the water kiteboarding. He is just cruising and jumping at this point, avoiding more radical tricks for now. He said he would send some riding photos to me.

His wife has noticed his stronger spirits to the point to where she is wondering about taking this sport up herself. His knee is still acting up so he wears a knee brace when he rides. The vision in his right eye is still blury and his neck is still painful at times. Still, the man is moving on as he heals.

He has shaped some boards shown below:





He has been busy around the house, painting the exterior indicating ladder work is still a bit dodgy. He is also about to cast the floor slab for his new workshop.

Things have changed at the local launch with most everyone in helmets and impact vests including the rider in a bright red lid.

So, he is continuing to recover well from this serious injury. Congratulations and thanks for sharing your experience.
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Old 03-31-2005, 04:15 PM
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The following is reposted from kiteforum:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nico
The pics of the original post are, imo, the best way to jolt people back to the reality that our sport can be lethal, if not practiced with full caution.
A data bank with lots of kite injuries (pictures) would be a good tool for beginners and experts alike, and would help in the promotion of using all possible safety gear (helmets, vests,... )
Anyone know of such a source ?
Nico
PS this post should be revived regularly
Thanks to this rider for going out of his way to spread the benefit of his experience. This came through inconvenience and added distress at a time when he had his hands full with pain, uncertainty about the future, his family and heart felt confusion. Still, despite that he wanted to try to do some good. I believe he has too and in a unique, selfless fashion. I really admire this rider's character and drive. I can't recall the last time photos were sent or offered for circulation much less with encouragement to try to spread lessons from a painful accident even while the victim was in the throws of injury.

With this precident, perhaps people will provide photos in the future. At the same time, some people are worried about the wrong idea being gathered about our sport. They feel that accounts and god forbid, photos, might be seized by foes of kiteboarding and used against it in legal proceedings, etc.. I have looked past this concern to what I have believed for a long time is a more fundamental and important need. That is working to reduce avoidable accidents and incidents in the first place by building awareness of what can go wrong and how to try to avoid it. Some people have chosen to believe that there really isn't a problem with awareness or the need to improve kiteboarding safety practices, fortunately largely historically at this point. Still there was a time when very few thought any of this was a good idea. Given continuing accidents, to all skill levels, I don't see that the need has changed much. I see signs of improvement however, I just don't think we are quite there yet.

I have started updating the KSI again after a long absence. Throughout this time I have continued to collect accident data and occassionally post articles and regularly update and post the Safe Kiteboarding Guidlines to encompass new ideas when I encounter them. So, through time you will see past accounts show up. Still, I think there is some need to continue the database even given the repetitious nature of many accidents. Is there a place for injury photos there?

I can certainly imagine substantial benefits but what do others think about this? What do people think about an accident database that would include graphic photos provided with the consent of the accident victim?

I will continue to post updates on this riders condition and process of healing as time goes on. Thanks for your input Nico.
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