Kite surfing is not an easy sport, but one participant showed it’s not even that easy to get ready to go kite surfing. An enthusiast at a San Francisco beach got caught by a strong gust of wind as he was getting his gear ready, and it dragged him onto a highway where he was hit by a car and suffered critical injuries.

Accidents in the sport are rare, according to Cort Larned, a co-owner of 101 Surf Sports located in San Rafael, who says most kite surfing mishaps happen under similar circumstances, “almost always taking place while getting into or out of the water.”

Steve Sutherland was visiting from Minnesota and watched the huge gust of wind hit the beach, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. According to Sutherland the injured man was down on the beach with his girlfriend getting his gear ready when the wind hit, saying “It picked him up and took him toward the road. He bounced a couple of times before I lost sight of him.”

At the time of the incident winds of 35 mph with gusts near 50 mph were blowing in the area. A city policeman confirmed that the man was setting up his rig at the edge of the water when the gust caught him and blew him onto the Great Highway. Police have not released the injured man’s name or given details about the person that hit him, other than to report that the driver stopped and did not leave the scene of the accident.

The injured man was dragged into oncoming traffic lanes and hit by a Toyota SUV, ending up trapped between the car and a concrete highway barrier. The SUV driver told police officers that he had seen the kite only moments before hitting the kite surfer. Police closed down the southbound highway lanes briefly to investigate. 

The accident victim was taken to San Francisco General Hospital, reportedly with critical injuries including a life-threatening head trauma.

Kite surfers use large parachute-style kites to capture the wind and propel themselves on surf-style boards. Veteran kite surfers believe that the victim was likely caught in an uncontrollable kite loop, which happens when a kite surfer’s line crosses the kite and causes a spin that drags the surfer at wind speed.

Photo credit: Dreamstime