A Florida kite surfer has died after a gust of wind picked him up off the ground and carried him for 400 feet before slamming him into the wall of a beachside house.
The incident took place Wednesday on Fort Lauderdale Beach, according to fire officials. The man, who was later identified on social media as Fred Salter, 61, was reportedly on the beach when the wind suddenly came up.
"He was attempting to kitesurf in the ocean behind the address here, actually, just two doors down, when strong winds came into the area unexpectedly, and he was not able to release from the kite in a timely manner," said Fort Lauderdale Fire Chief Stephen Gollan, "So we went from relatively calm conditions to extremely dangerous conditions in a short period of time." according to WSVN-TV.
Salter was rushed to the hospital in critical condition but pronounced dead three hours later, the Sun-Sentinel reported.
His death came as a surprise to fellow kite surfer Graham Goodwin, owner of Fort Lauderdale Kitesurfing, who wondered why Salter had not let go of the bar, or activated one of the two releases. This would have "all but detached him from the kite."
"Letting go of the bar solves 90% of problems," Goodwin explained. That being said, Goodwin pointed out that, minutes before the incident, a weather advisory had been issued in Broward County warning of heavy winds. Witnesses told WSVN-TV that it felt as if the wind was traveling at 50 mph.
"He was windsurfing on the beach, and the wind picked up and threw him against the building, and he went down," a witness said in a 911 call to Broward Sheriff’s Office.
Goodwin admitted Salter "could be a little bit reckless at times," but "he was out there often" and was a "very experienced" kite surfer.
"He loved what he did, and [he was] one of the nicest people I’ve ever met, and I’m just in shock right now," added friend Heather Hentges. "I can’t believe it. I’m just so sad for him."
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