Kitesurfer smashes legs in collision

ANDREA O'NEIL
Last updated 05:00 25/02/2014

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A Poirirua man may lose his leg after a kitesurfing accident at Titahi Bay beach.

The 32-year-old was taken to Wellington Hospital on Saturday with severely damaged legs after colliding with a surf lifesaving rowing boat at 5.30pm.

His left leg was broken in multiple places, and he had severe cuts to his lower right leg.

He was in a stable condition yesterday, a hospital spokesman said.

Titahi Bay Residents' Association chairman Graeme Ebbett said witnesses reported that he appeared to have broken both legs and that only one might be saved.

The kitesurfer was travelling south off the beach when he collided with the four-man surf boat, which was 50 metres from shore, Nick Mulcahy, director of lifesaving at Titahi Bay Surf Lifesaving Club, said.

The senior male surf crew were doing exercises ahead of next month's New Zealand Surf Life Saving Championships in Ohope.

The crew had tried to avoid a collision by stopping their boat when they saw the kitesurfer losing control, and the kitesurfer tried to turn north to avoid collision too, Mulcahy said.

However, the man slammed into the front starboard side of the boat and fell into the water.

"It was a fairly solid impact. He had blood loss and fairly serious leg injuries."

The crew took him to shore in their boat and treated him with the help of a fifth lifesaver and a paramedic, who happened to be surfing in the bay.

The man was conscious and responding to questions, but in the early stages of shock, Mulcahy said.

He was taken to hospital by Wellington Free Ambulance a short time later.

The accident was traumatic for everyone involved and the four lifesavers were offered counselling, Mulcahy said.

"We wish the best for the kitesurfer and his family, and hope he comes through as well as possible."

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