Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Caught on tape - Kiteboarding accident

28-year-old Kevin Kearney was snatched into the sky by high winds from Tropical Storm Fay as he tried to surf off Ft. Lauderdale Beach and was blown into a building.

FORT LAUDERDALE (CBS4)Peter D'Oench ― Emergency officials warned South Floridians to seek shelter during Tropical Storm Fay but a man in Fort Lauderdale seeking some thrills on the rough surf didn't heed that warning and ended up in the hospital after being hurt in an astonishing kite boarding accident that was caught on camera.

A CBS4 news crew was on Fort Lauderdale beach at A1A and east Las Olas Boulevard on Monday when a huge gust of wind from Fay blew down the beach and took 28-year-old Kevin Kearney by surprise.

The kite boarder was harnessed into his sail when the wind violently picked him up and slammed him onto the sandy beach. Then, he was dragged across the sand before being lifted up into the air again and blown across the street where the wind slammed him into a building.

WFOR photographer Yuzeith Osorio believes the young man was blown away by a forming waterspout. "Basically, we were getting ready to go live and I saw something forming up in the sky. I told Pete, 'Hey, careful, something's forming.'"

Witnesses ran to help the Fort Lauderdale resident, who lay crumpled on the ground in pain. "I'm surprised he didn't get hit by a car because we have A1A right here," said CBS4 Engineer Anthony Romano. "I think it was a miracle that he just flew over the street and into the thing."

Fort Lauderdale fire rescue crews quickly arrived on the scene and transported him to Broward General Medical Center. He is currently listed in critical condition, but his friends continue to insist they believe he will make a full recovery.

In a statement, Kearney's family said, "Kevin is an experienced kite-boarder and an all around great guy. We ask that you keep Kevin in your prayers and respect our privacy."

Kearney's friends say he was strapped into a harness with emergency releases. However, everything happened so fast, it's possible he had no time to think about unhooking his clasps. The incident is a very surreal reminder of the dangers inherent in Tropical Storm-force winds.