Wisconsin Kite Tube Death

On Little Saint Germain Lake in Vilas County, Wisconsin, a kite tube accident left a man fatally injured Monday night (6/26/2006). Authorities say 42-year-old Gregory Bykowski was riding on an inflatable kite tube when he flew several feet into the air and slammed into the water, suffering fatal head and chest injuries. Mr. Bykowski struck the water around 8 p.m. Monday and died five hours later at the hospital. Conservation warden Mike Sealander said, It appeared that Mr. Bykowski hit only the water. The Vilas County Sheriff's Department identified the victim Tuesday as Gregory Bykowski, 42, of Delafield. The autopsy reported a lacerated artery in the liver caused his death.

Jim Roadt, of New Berlin, Wisconsin, said conditions were perfect the day his friend, Gregory Bykowski, died. "Glass-smooth water, no wind, no traffic," Roadt wrote in a June 29 e-mail to a Deseret Morning News reporter. Mr. Bykowski was riding on a kite tube, which is an inflatable platform towed by a boat. It skims across the water and can become airborne. A boat towed Bykowski, on a kite tube at approximately 30 mph. The tube rose about 3 feet in the air for a few seconds then it suddenly veered to the right and nose-dived. Bykowski struck the water face first. An EMT arrived and cared for Bykowski almost immediately. "(The kite tube) was 3 feet off the ground," Roadt wrote in his e-mail. "These things should be off the market."

Kite tubing, or tube kiting, is a relatively new form of extreme water sport which is fast growing in popularity, but also extremely dangerous. When tubes being towed on water achieve high speeds, they may begin to experience a tendancy to take flight. This owes to the body of the tube acting as an airfoil and creating lift. In this manner, the tube acts as a kite.