2007-09-14 / Front Page

Rescued Kitesurfer Is A Real Land-Lover

By Brian Magoolaghan

One of the landlubberly kitesurfers who became stranded at sea on Wednesday got down on his hands and knees and kissed the sands of Rockaway Beach, after stepping out of the NYPD helicopter that plucked him out of the ocean.

An unidentified kitesurfer rides the rescue basket of a NYPD helicopter to safety on Wednesday. The man kissed the sand after the chopper touched down on the beach. An unidentified kitesurfer rides the rescue basket of a NYPD helicopter to safety on Wednesday. The man kissed the sand after the chopper touched down on the beach. The rescue unfolded at about 2:40 p.m. Wednesday and stretched over several beaches in the lower Beach 100s and Beach 90s, as winds of 15 miles per hour blew two men and their kite eastward in the ocean, about a half-mile from shore. Witnesses spotted the bright-orange and black kite swirling around and whipping down into the water, which was smooth as glass, and dialed 911.

NYPD Aviation Unit helicopters quickly flew to the scene, as members of the FNDY took to the water, one of them paddling out from shore on a rescue surfboard. One of the choppers lowered its rescue basket and hoisted one of the men safely aboard. The unruly kite continued to take flight and crash into the water as the helicopter circled several times. Police divers were eventually deployed from the same chopper to retrieve the kite and assist the other man, which required the assistance of an FDNY fireboat.

An unidentified kitesurfer shakes hands with one of his rescuers after they brought him back to shore safely. An unidentified kitesurfer shakes hands with one of his rescuers after they brought him back to shore safely. First responders lined the shore and emergency vehicles waited on the boardwalk at Beach 98 Street, as police pushed back onlookers and the helicopter with one of the men aboard landed on Beach 95 Street. The helicopter pilot and an officer in a dry-suit stepped out into the sand before the man, still wearing the kite harness, stepped out of the chopper, got down on his hands and knees and kissed the sand. He hugged and shook the hands of his rescuers before walking about halfway up the beach to speak with rescue personnel, including Captain Charles Neacy, the commander of the 100 Precinct.

Police said the men, who they did not identify, declined medical attention. It was unclear how long they had been stranded and what happened to the kiteboard; witnesses gave conflicting reports that the men weren't using one, while others said it was lost in the water.

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