A U.S. national and businessman of Caye Caulker, Michael Flemrite, 41,died on Tuesday, June 7, at around 4:00 p.m., when he was picked up by a sudden, heavy wind while kitesurfing, and thrown against his own building.
Flemrite was flung violently into the verandah of his wooden building, about 20 feet from where he had been surfing near the shore. The impact caused severe head and body injuries to Flemrite. A three-inch cut wound was observed behind Flemrite’s head, said his common-law wife, Diane Auxillou, and he later died on the Island.
The impact caused a 4x4 verandah post, to be ripped from its position leaving it at a slant.
Yesterday Amandala spoke with Diane as she headed to the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital morgue to witness his post-mortem. According to her, Flemrite had already come in from kitesurfing and was bringing down his kite when the incident occurred. Kitesurfing, also known as kiteboarding, involves using a power kite to pull a small surfboard (on water), a wheeled board on land, or a snowboard over snow.
According to Caye Caulker police, Flemrite had been warned about being out at sea in such weather, as the island was experiencing a “white rain,” where you cannot see anything out at sea, only “a whiteness,” said the police.
They said that they had tried to bring Flemrite in, but he refused. They managed, however, to escort him from the reef to shore.
His wife said that she was unaware that police had warned her husband about being out at sea, as the weather was great that day, with only some drizzle being experienced on the island.
Auxillou said that her husband, who usually goes either kitesurfing or windsurfing, had observed the weather conditions before leaving the shop, and had decided that due to the direction of the wind, he would only kitesurf that day. Wind direction dictates whether you can windsurf or kitesurf, said Auxillou.
At the time Flemrite was kitesurfing, however, Belize City was experiencing heavy rains from around noon. The weather lasted for over five hours, but the bad weather was not evident on the island, said Auxillou.
It was around 2:00 p.m. when Flemrite went kitesurfing, said his wife, and he would usually be gone for about 3-4 hours, she recalled.
Sometime around 4:00-4:30 p.m., Diane understands that her husband, who had already made it to shore, saw a squall approaching and decided to come into the house. With the help of another man, he tried to bring down his kitesurf. Flemrite had already taken off his board, but was still connected to the kite. Flemrite made several attempts, she said, but they failed, and when he tried once more, the squall arrived and the heavy winds picked him up. He tried to maneuver the kite, but the wind was too strong.
A man who saw Flemrite’s danger grabbed his foot, said Auxillou, but due to the heavy wind the man was unable to hold him for long, and he was lifted up into the air by the wind.
Auxillou said that at the time of the incident she was in the office, about a minute away, when she heard that something had happened to him. She thought that he had fallen into the water and hurt himself.
By the time she arrived at the scene, Flemrite was already unconscious and bleeding from the eyes, mouth, ears and nose, she recalled. He never regained consciousness.
Flemrite was 6 feet 3 inches in height, weighed about 190 pounds, and had been surfing for over 6 years, said his wife.
Originally, from Minneapolis, Minnesota, Flemrite was an aerospace engineer by education. He worked several years for Boeing, based in St. Louis, Missouri, and then Long Beach, California.
He first visited Caye Caulker in the early 1990’s, and about 10 years later traveled by motorcycle from Los Angeles to Belize, looking for real estate. After returning to the tranquil island of Caye Caulker, he met Diane and decided to settle in 2001, and became a naturalized Belizean.
One year ago, he opened his business - Michael’s Windsurf and Water Sports.
Funeral services for Michael Flemrite are scheduled for sometime over the weekend. His body will be cremated and his ashes will be scattered in the sea at an area known as the “Swash,” a channel in the sea near Caye Caulker, said Diane.