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Kite-surfing Florida man dies after strong wind slams him into house

Fred Salter is shown kitesurfing in this 2019 file photo. Fred Salter/Facebook

A powerful gust of wind killed a kite surfer by slamming him into the second floor of a house on Wednesday, according to firefighters in Fort Lauderdale Beach, Fla.

Authorities did not immediately release the victim’s identity, but friends have identified him as Fred Salter, 61.

Salter was just venturing out onto the water around 10 a.m. when the wind picked up, lifting him up and carrying him 122 metres (400 feet) through the air before smashing him against a home.

“He was attempting to kitesurf in the ocean … when strong winds came into the area unexpectedly, and he was not able to release from the kite in a timely manner,” Stephen Gollan, a battalion chief for Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue, told WSVN-TV. He added that the weather went from calm to “extremely dangerous” in a short period of time.

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“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. “He’s unconscious on the floor. He’s bleeding.”

Salter was taken to hospital in critical condition. He died a few hours later.

His orange kite was still dangling from the home hours after the collision.

“It really is a freak accident,” Gollan told the Miami Herald. “The storm came in relatively quickly. There’s no warning when a gust of wind is going to come through.”

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Salter’s friend Mike Bradley described him as a veteran kite surfer and cancer survivor.

“Freddy was a very intelligent waterman,” Bradley told local broadcaster WPLG. “And it’s just how fast something can happen on the water.”

“He loved what he did,” Heather Hentges, another of Salter’s friends, told WSVN. “I can’t believe it. I’m just so sad right now.”

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Kite surfing is an extreme sport that involves strapping your feet to a surfboard and hooking yourself up to a sail-like kite via body harness. Participants use the wind to propel themselves, and most body harnesses include a quick-release in the event that the wind threatens to carry them away.

It’s unclear if Salter’s harness had that safety measure.

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