Tony Heydenburg floated in the water about a half-mile offshore, nearly a quarter-mile north of the Grand Haven pier. Heydenburg, 22, ran into trouble when the wind changed direction from south to east and he lost air under his kite.
From there, he pulled his safety release, but it ended up getting wrapped around his leg. While this was happening, Heydenburg had a heart palpitation, and said his vision became blurry and he was disoriented.
Heydenburg said he made a mistake when he noticed the wind change.
“I should have released the kite a lot sooner," he said.
When his vision was restored, Heydenburg was heading toward Wisconsin when two fellow kiteboarders came out to help him.
Josh Mitchell, one of the boarders who swam out to help, said it could have been a lot worse. Mitchell described the situation as “simply a really bad choice.”
Heydenburg said he only wanted to catch one or two rides before work, but the wind made it extremely risky even when he attempted to stay close to the shore.
Once Mitchell and his brother, Jake, saw Heydenburg go down, they grabbed a board from a nearby residence and headed out.
The Coast Guard arrived on scene at 1:26 p.m. The Ottawa County dive team was alerted at around the same time.
Emergency personnel were able to be cautious with their approach because Heydenburg was still floating, with the help of his board.
Eventually, the three kiteboarders made it to shore and the dive team was called off at 1:43 p.m.
The National Weather Service on Monday issued a "Beach Hazards Statement" to warn users of Lake Michigan that potential hazards exist through Tuesday evening. The weather bureau said high-wave action and dangerous swimming conditions are expected, with rip currents possible. The beaches with particular hazardous conditions are off Grand Haven State Park, South Beach in South Haven and Pere Marquette Park in Muskegon.
The main threats during the day will be longshore currents and structural currents on the south side of the south piers.
To read the full hazard statement, click here.