A kitesurfer hoping to enjoy the waves in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., died Wednesday when a gust of wind lifted him off the beach, carried him 400 feet, then slammed him into the side of a home, WESH reports. An orange kite was seen protruding from a second-floor balcony of the beachfront home as authorities arrived on the scene around 10am. A witness had called 911, describing a man "unconscious on the floor" and "bleeding." "The wind picked up and threw him against the building, and he went down," the caller added, per WSVN.
The man had attempted to launch from the beach "just two doors down, when strong winds came into the area unexpectedly," Fire Rescue Battalion Chief Stephen Gollan told the outlet. "We went from relatively calm conditions to extremely dangerous conditions in a short period of time ... and he was not able to release from the kite in a timely manner." Surveillance video showed the man attempting to control the kite before he was dragged along the sand, then lifted, per WSVN.
The victim was taken to a hospital in critical condition, but he died of his injuries shortly after 1pm, fire department officials said. Friends identified him as 61-year-old Fred Salter, per Fox News. One friend told WPLG that Salter had just survived a battle with cancer. "I keep thinking I should've been there this morning, but I can't think that because Freddy was a very intelligent waterman," Mike Bradley said of the longtime kitesurfer. It shows "just how fast something can happen on the water. It's just crazy." (Read more Florida stories.)