South Florida Sun-Sentinel
A kite surfer died Wednesday after he was picked up by sudden gusts of wind along Fort Lauderdale beach and carried more than 400 feet before slamming into the side of a private house, according to Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue.
The man, whose name was not released, was taken to a nearby hospital in critical condition shortly after 10 a.m. He was pronounced dead about three hours later. Friends on social media identified him as Fred Salter, 61, of Fort Lauderdale.
Salter’s Facebook and Instagram pages are filled with photos of him engaged in an activity he loved. In kite surfing, the surfer ventures into the water with a surfboard under his feet and uses the kite to rise above the waves, usually coming down within a few seconds — long enough to perform flips and twists if the wind cooperates.
Battalion Chief Stephen Gollan, spokesman for Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue, said the kite surfer was wearing a harness that was securely connected to his apparatus. Experienced surfers were at a loss as to why he did not either let go of the bar, which might have rendered the kite useless, or activated one of two releases that would have all but detached him from the kite.
“Letting go of the bar solves 90 percent of problems,” said Graham Goodwin, owner of Fort Lauderdale Kitesurfing, which offers lessons.
It’s not clear how high in the air the victim went as he was blown from the beach, or whether that contributed to his failure to exercise the safety features. He hit the second floor of a private home on the 2600 block of North Atlantic Blvd.
The victim was above land the whole time, Gollan said.
Graham Goodwin, said he saw Salter setting up on the beach Wednesday morning and that mutual friends had warned him about the day’s winds.
A weather advisory had been issued in Broward County minutes before the incident.
“He could be a little bit reckless at times,” said Goodwin. “But he was out there often. He was very experienced.”
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