This is an awful story. Most of what's here comes from forum posts and emails from Long Island windsurfers in Hatteras (including Peconic Jeff and Mike Burns) along with posts in some kitesurfing forums that tell this story:
Saturday afternoon winds were light...10-15 knots. Windsurfers and kiters were on the water off of Avon with big lightwind gear. A cold front blasted through around 5pm, with gusts up to 40mph, flattening any number of sailors and kiters. Shortly after two apparently inexperienced kiters got worked just off of Island Creek, a third kiter launched, and was seen intentionally getting massive air...30 foot jumps at least. He appeared to be quite capable. Then the kiter got into trouble during a high jump, hit the water hard, and was dragged several hundred yards downwind until his kite grounded on one of the islands. People rushed out to help him and administered CPR, and an emergency unit soon came to take him to the hospital. The kiter, identified as Timothy Holman from Sarnia, Ontario, did not survive.
Here's Jeff's description of what he saw:
I saw most of the kiting chaos since we were BBQ'ing in the back yard. Prior to the wind switching, I stood there scratching my head as the house next door proceeded to pump up every kite in their quiver - they had more kites than people laying there on the lawn, just upwind of where we were standing. Then they launched a couple beginners on big kites, the wind began switching and chaos ensued. At this point things began looking dangerous, so we sent the small kids inside, and minutes later one kiter was struggling near the dock (lines apparently caught), while another one was bouncing along 50 yards at a time, like a slow-motion train wreck, headed towards the docks, rocks and houses. Two others upwind were struggling, but at least in control and slowly making their way back. Despite all this chaos and the obvious 30-40 mph wind, we saw another more 'experienced looking' kiter from a different house launch on a small kite. He seemed to be in control, and started launching into giant jumps. My attention was divided between him and the two other kiters upwind, so I didn't see the actual crash, but Mike's friend Scott said he landed on the water sideways. We watched as his kite slowly floated downwind towards the island, and we knew something was wrong. We could only see the kite, but it must have been dragging the kiter through the water.
People go to Cape Hatteras with such enthusiasm, joy and expectation of a wonderful time on the water. My heart goes out to his family and friends.
(The change in wind was not completely unforeseeable. The wind was forecasted to go from westerly low-mid teens to northerly 20s (it actually went 30s-40+), and apparently iWindsurf sites north and west of Avon could be seen in the 30's just an hour prior. I note this because kiting accidents...kitemares...whatever you want to call them...a kite can be a deadly water toy when things go wrong. It seems to me that if you're going to launch a kite you really need to be on top of weather conditions and forecasts for the area.)