The last time you saw Kevin Kearney, he was on Fort Lauderdale Beach, then he was... flying... across A1A... then colliding... with the side of a condo tower. The thrilling three-second ride was filmed by a local news crew and soon posted online. It was shown (for maybe the millionth time) last week by Most Daring, a thrill sports program on TruTV.
Kearney talked to Tailpipe about that morning last August when he followed the howling winds of Tropical Storm Fay to the beach.
"I had two broken kites that day," says Kearney, who had been kiteboarding for some five hours when he came ashore. "I was trying to put my kite down when it happened. I have no recollection of the incident." The gust of wind took hold of him so fast that he couldn't unfasten himself from the kite.
He awakened in the hospital, where he was treated for two broken vertebrae, a cracked rib, and bleeding in his brain and received 25 stitches in his forehead. By then, he was already the latest YouTube celebrity.
He says Good Morning America offered him $10,000 to make an appearance. He was still heavily medicated when he went on the air. "I still didn't really know what had happened to me," he says. "In my first interview, I was just happy to be alive. But I was also on four or five painkillers for my head injury."
In his addled state, Kearney was in no condition to navigate treacherous political waters. His beloved sport is only about 6 years old, and many of his fellow kiteboarders resented the publicity for making the sport look more dangerous than it is.
Kearney, who says he's "mostly healed," still feels tempted on a windy day, and though he's only been kiteboarding once since the accident, he won't quit the sport. "I have felt so lost and bored, feeling like my life is not complete since I haven't been kiteboarding."