Kite Tubing

A fun day of boating on the Missouri River turned frightening for a family and their friends when a new water toy became too much to handle.

Colleen York had a queasy feeling as she watched.

"I'm thinking to myself something is going to happen. He's going way too high," she recalls.

A friend riding a newly purchased water toy called the kite tube made a hard landing.

Colleen says, "We turned around and he was unconscious in the water and we're all freaking out. So his dad jumps in and rescues him. He started coughing. I was glad."

Watching the tape of the episode, Nebraska Medical Center emergency room Dr. Richard Walker said water doesn't guarantee a soft landing."

He says, "If you are jerked around quickly in the air you can injure your neck or your back; your spine."

But Paul Davis of Omaha Marine Center says the kite tube comes with written and video instructions to make it a safe and exciting ride.

He says the instructions are, "very specific to the speed you can go, the rope length to use. If you continue to accelerate, about the 30 mile-per-hour range you increase your chances of getting hurt."

The cockpit of the kite tube also comes with instructions on communicating with the boat with instructions to speed up or slow down.

Dan Wiley is a kite tube rider who doesn't think of himself as a daredevil.

He says, "If you go too fast, yes, it's going to be a dangerous situation but it's a very calm, relaxing, fun ride."

Though the kite tube initially made a splash with her friends, Colleen York says they've since returned it.

"It looks fun," she says. "You might think you have control but one gust of wind and they now know better."

Sports Stuff, the manufacturer, says no other towable, inflatable on the market has such an extensive system of warnings and instruction. Markings on the tube are specifically designed to warn the riders of possible dangers in misusing the tube. It's produced by a company in Omaha that conducted numerous safety tests on Lake Manawa before putting the tube on the market.

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