A link to this story was posted as a comment to an earlier post I made about the Kite Tube. Based on this story and a number of the comments to the last kite tube post it’s not safe! Please don’t take your life into your own hands with one of these. The constantly changing angle-of-attack, combined with weight shifts from the rider and the lack of drag make this an extremely unpredictable “kite”.
KFDM-TV Channel Six News writes…
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department tonight is investigating the death of a man who fell off something called a kite tube and landed in the water near the Neches River and the Intracoastal Waterway.
Advertisers say buy a kite tube, and you’ll reach ‘incredible heights.’
Water sports enthusiast Don Burnett says, “As wind gets underneath it, you just start to fly.”
Three weeks ago Burnett of Lumberton ordered a kite tube.
Burnett says, “Adrenaline water sport we enjoy doing.”
But as Texas Parks and Wildlife knows first hand, the thrill of flight can leave danger in its wake. On Sunday 33-year-old James Freeland of Orangefield died after falling off a kite tube near Stutes Island where the Neches River meets the Intracoastal Waterway.
Game Warden Robbie Smith says, “Common sense is really an oxymoron. People don’t use it that often. They don’t think before.”
According to another game warden’s preliminary report, Freeland was about 15 feet in the air on the tube. Several witnesses say the kite tube turned onto its side in the air and then fell to the water. Freeland was knocked off. His neck was injured, and he died at a hospital.
Smith says, “It sounds like it was just an accident. As far as being able to put responsibility on somebody, I don’t know you can.”
An instructional video on sportsstuff.com says the boat driver has far more control over the rider than in other water sports.
The announcer on the video says, “The speed, height and flight control are all directly associated with the boat driver.”
Parks and Wildlife says there is no evidence the driver was impaired, and he hasn’t been cited. But the accident has caused Burnett to rethink whether he’ll take a ride on his tube when it arrives.
Burnett says, “Certainly something I’ll look into and evaluate and weigh the options as far as fun and the risk of getting hurt or harmed.”
Game wardens admit they don’t know much about this new extreme sport, so they’re not suggesting you avoid it. But they agree with the words printed on this tube, ‘Never kite higher than you’re willing to fall.’
Freeland will be laid to rest on Thursday. KFDM News checked with local stores, and we couldn’t find any that sell kite tubes. For comments or questions about this story contact Sally MacDonald at 895-4662 or firstname.lastname@example.org.