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Kite surfer killed in rocks horror

AN experienced kite surfer died after he was lifted by a gust of wind and flung against rocks, an inquest heard yesterday.

Student David 'Baba' North had no time to use the safety releases that could have saved his life.

Mr North (26) from Miltown, Belturbet in Co Cavan, was killed instantly after being dragged along the sand before hitting rocks in strong 50kmh winds on Rossnowlagh Beach, Co Donegal, on November 24, 2009.

He suffered massive head injuries on impact and was pronounced dead at the scene, an inquest into his death heard yesterday.

Guided by the coroner, the jury in Donegal town said it was death by misadventure.

Evidence was heard from friends who desperately tried to save him after he took off suddenly while launching his kite.

The plumber and keen sportsman, who had returned to education and was studying quantity surveying at the Letterkenny Institute of Technology had borrowed a large nine-metre kite from a friend to try it out with a group of student pals.

Barry O'Reilly, also from Belturbet, Co Cavan, told how David was having difficulty getting the kite up into the air. "He asked me to grab it. Then it just took off. David got dragged along the beach on his side until he hit the rocks. He did not have time to use either safety device," he said.

One pal ran to a nearby house to get a scissors to cut the kite loose while two other friends struggled to control the kite by attempting to wrap it around a fence.

Kyra McKenna who took a wind reading of 50kmh per hour shortly before the tragedy, described how David helped her launch and then turned down her offer of help in return.

She was out on the water for approximately 20 minutes when she noticed the commotion on the beach and saw David lying on the rocks.

She said that she noticed that two of the pigtails on the back steering lines had snapped. "I believe self-launching, wind strength and the lack of knowledge of the kite resulted in his death," she said.

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Jim North, the father of the dead man, described his son as an accomplished kite surfer with four years' experience who practiced twice weekly.

"He learned properly through lessons. He owned two kites. He was capable of assessing conditions and I would have trusted his judgment at all times," he said. Qualified kite surfer instructor, Garda Padraig Deery, who examined the equipment after the tragedy, described the pigtails as very old and the lines as being in a bad state of repair.

But the kite owner, Jonathan Evans, who had purchased it six years previously, said it was in good condition.

He said the lines had probably snapped after the accident.

An autopsy concluded that David North had suffered multiple skull fractures, fractured ribs and a severe spinal fracture in the violent impact.

Coroner Dr Diarmuid Hegarty described the death as a tragic accident. "He clearly had considerable experience. As with all sport there is an element of risk and we cannot argue with that. People accept the risks and make considered judgement to take part in these adventure sports," he said.

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