Texas Kite Tube Death

The first known kite tube death occured in April when 33-year-old James Freeland of Orangefield, Texas, fell 15 feet and struck the water. James Freeland died from his kite tube injuries after he fell from his kite tube as it was towed at about 32 mph on the Neches River near the Intracoastal Canal.

Newly Hunt, a friend of the accident victim, said he was following the kite tube in his own boat when a gust of wind knocked the Wego Kite Tube off-center. "I don't know if he jumped or was thrown," Hunt said. "The wind just about turned it over. We pulled him from the water - it took several of us to do it. He was unconscious."

James Freeland, owner of a construction company in Orange and the father of two young children, died of his kite tube injuries April 30, 2006 at a Port Arthur Hospital. Hunt said Freeland had owned the Wego Kite Tube about a week, and the accident occurred on his third ascent. "He had been up for about three minutes," Hunt said.

Jay Schneider, SportsStuff marketing director, said he has looked into many of the injury reports and found each injury resulted because people neglected to follow posted safety precautions. "In every instance that resulted in an injury, the boat driver far exceeded the recommended maximum speed for safe operation," he said. "Moreover, the unsafe speeds reported far exceed those recommended for water skiing, wakeboarding and tubing and could have resulted in an injury there, too."

U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission spokeswoman Julie Vallese said a plethora of injuries and several death reports warranted the kite tube recall. Vallese said the commission felt there was a recognizable danger. "The real hazard is the unknown controllability of this product and how it reacts in different environments," she said. "The determination was that that was hazard enough."