2012-03-09 / Top Stories

Police Aviation Unit Swoops In For ‘Rescue’

An NYPD diver descending from the helicopter to rescue Rieland. An NYPD diver descending from the helicopter to rescue Rieland. A kitesurfer off the shore of Beach 73 Street was rescued by NYPD helicopters on Saturday afternoon when a concerned resident thought the kitesurfer was in distress and called 911 to assist the man, according to local sources.

It turns out that Rockaway Beach resident,

Sumner Patrick Rieland, wasn’t in distress at all but was in a position in which he’s seen himself many times before. He claims, while he appreciates all the efforts of the NYPD rescue unit, the force of the helicopter itself is what really put him in danger.

The ordeal began when he was kitesurfing off Beach 87 Street. The conditions were ideal for the sport and he was going along fine until his last jump when he crashed into the water and the lines of his kite momentarily became tangled.

According to Rieland he began to recover and work his way back towards the shore when the NYPD helicopters, responding to the 911 call, swooped in to rescue him. Inadvertently, however, the force of the swirling copter wrapped the 25-foot-long kite strings around his body immobilizing him and almost forcing the rescue after he tried to wave off the helicopters alerting them he was OK and not in distress. Rieland charges that it’s the unnecessary and illinformed efforts of the NYPD that put him in danger and that, perhaps, they should have handled the rescue differently.

The NYPD helicopter lands on the beach after the rescue. The NYPD helicopter lands on the beach after the rescue. “I really do appreciate the efforts of the NYPD,” he said. “It’s great that they are there for us.”

On the other hand Rieland says he would like to engage the NYPD in discussion with kitesurfing groups about how to identify a rider in distress. Unlike ordinary surfers, kitesurfers have the ability to use their kites as a floatation device even after they wipe out.

The force of the wind from the helicopter can have a severe effect on how the kite behaves and the subsequent effects on the rider who’s holding it, he continues.

“There might be a lack of understanding of how to handle that kind of rescue,” he continued.

Rieland, who says he is a certified instructor, has been doing this since 2003 and would like to invite the NYPD unit for a sit-down to discuss how to better handle situations such as these, should they occur again.

“The ideal rescue should really take place by boat with the helicopter kept at bay.”

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