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By ELIZABETH BINNING
Kite-surfer Douglas Wisor had just landed on the beach when a strong gust of wind caught his kite and flung him to his death.
The 31-year-old was dragged through a row of trees at speed then dumped into the side of a caravan at the Te Awanga Motor Lodge, just east of Hastings.
Suffering head and chest injuries Mr Wisor died soon after, the first kite-surfing fatality in New Zealand.
The accident happened just before 2pm on Saturday as the American, who worked as a winemaker in the Hawkes Bay, was finishing a kite surf at Te Awanga beach.
He was on his own and about to undo his harness when the strong northwesterly caught his kite.
Motor camp manager Joy Mildenhall said campers heard a loud bang as Mr Wiser, who was not wearing a helmet, hit the vacant caravan moments later. He died on the way to hospital.
The accident came as a shock yesterday to those who have taken up the relatively new adventure sport.
"Doug was a real nice guy. This is a real loss for the kite-boarding community, his family and his friends," said one person on a surfing internet chatroom. "A shock like this sure makes you take a moment to reflect on all the near-misses we have all experienced."
Mr Wisor, an experienced kite surfer, may not have had time to use a safety button which releases the kite in critical situations.
Kitesports owner Tim Stockman said from Christchurch that the sport could be dangerous in gusty conditions, especially if the surfer was on their own.
Landing can be particularly dangerous because if something does go wrong there are more chances of hitting an object than out at sea.
Last December a kite-surfer was badly injured in Golden Bay after a gust of wind carried him 50m and dropped him into a house.
Craggy Range Wines managing director Steve Smith said Mr Wisor was a talented winemaker who came to New Zealand about four years ago.
Mr Smith said Mr Wisor loved all adventure sports. "The world is a poorer place without him. He was an unbelievable young man."
Do we know that he wasn't wearing a helmet?
As a beginner who remains undetered but always curious I wonder if there is anything to be learned from this. What he did wrong, if anything, and what should I as a beginner know so I can avoid meeting a similar fate. If he didn't do anything wrong I guess that just reaffirms the perception that, despite as safe as you can be, sometimes you just can't trust the wind with your life. Which is a kinda scary thought. Oh well, there is inheirent risk in everything, even doing nothing. Hell, you can cut your nose with a soda can. At least it can be said of him that he died with his boots on, doing what he loved.
On a matter of principle I never feel sad for the dead, I just find it an appropriate time for the persons loved ones to reflect fondly on the culmination of their life. But know one wants to die so lets all continue to take only the necessary, or worthwhile, risks.
The article doe sindicate the he was indeed, not wearing a helmet, but it's anyone's guess as to whether or now it would have saved his life. I'm certainly not qualified to say. Exactly what happened no one may know either. He was on land and and apparently hit by a strong gust that lofted or dragged him and caused him to lose control of the kite, resulting in fatal injuries.
What can be said is that there are things you can do to do everything within your power to prevent such accidents. Be aware, keep your kite low, be ready with your safety. Have more than one safety. With my harness that has a Slingshot Surefire spreader bar and my Best swivel bar, I have 3 safety release options. One on the spreader bar and two on the control bar. I can only hope that when I really need to use them, I can find one of them....
4 posts • Page 1 of 1
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