2004-07-23 / Front Page

Close Call For Jamaica Bay Kitesurfer

By Howard Schwach


A large, unidentified motorboat comes within 50 feet of a kitesurfer in Jamaica Bay, forcing him underwater. Locals say that boaters should be licensed just as motorists have to be. Eyewitnesses say that nobody on the boat was paying attention as it sped nearby the Rockaway shore.
A large, unidentified motorboat comes within 50 feet of a kitesurfer in Jamaica Bay, forcing him underwater. Locals say that boaters should be licensed just as motorists have to be. Eyewitnesses say that nobody on the boat was paying attention as it sped nearby the Rockaway shore.

A man who was Kitesurfing on Jamaica Bay off the shore of Beach 120 Street averted serious injury on Saturday when a speeding power boat caused him to lose control and become tangled in the kite’s lines.

The man, identified only as Gianni to The Wave, was on the bay moving between Beach 120 Street and Beach 128 Street when a large powerboat speeding close to shore nearly hit him, forcing him underwater and to be tangled in his lines.

“The person who took the picture said that nobody on the boat was paying any attention, that it was probably on some sort of autopilot,” said local resident Pauline Mancuso, a friend of Gianni’s. “My friend fell into the huge wake of the boat and was being dragged under by the weight of the kite and the lines.”

Mancuso said that the boat came within 50 feet of the kitesurfer, never slacking speed as it moved away.

Gianni, a strong swimmer, managed to right himself in the water and begin a swim to shore.

Eyewitnesses to the accident called 911 and police aviation and harbor units responded as did EMS units on the shoreline.

Mancuso said that the boat came back to the scene about 10 minutes after the accident, asking if everybody was all right.

When Gianni finally reached shore under his own power, he refused medical treatment.

Mancuso thinks that something must be done so that accidents such as this do not happen in the future.

“I have lived here for 12 years, and I am always surprised at the liberties that boaters take in these waters,” says Mancuso. “I think that restrictions should be set for boaters and that comprehensive training should be required for licensing before somebody can take a boat out into the bay.”

She urges the state to push for licensing of boaters.

“Thank God nothing happened this time,” Mancuso said. “Are we going to wait for a fatal accident to happen before we do something about it?”

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