A successful businessman was killed when a large gust of wind lifted him 150 feet into the air and smashed him against a cliff while he was kitesurfing, an inquest heard today.
Tom Hutchinson was picked up and slammed twice at high speed into the rock face above a popular holiday beach in the Isle of Wight, causing severe head injuries.
The 52-year-old’s younger brother today told how he held his hand as he lay dying following the tragic accident last summer.
He was airlifted to hospital but died later that evening surrounded by his family, the inquest heard.
Tom Hutchinson, 52, was killed when a large gust of wind lifted him 150 feet into the air and smashed him against a cliff while he was kitesurfing, an inquest heard today
Mr Hutchinson – who ran his own successful sailing business – was an experienced kitesurfer who had been practising the adrenaline sport, where a surfboard is propelled across the water by a large kite strapped to the boarder, for 20 years.
Today’s inquest heard the sport carries ‘enormous risks’, such as surprise gusts of wind which can lift boarders out of the sea.
Mr Hutchinson had a home in Valencia, Spain, and a cliff top cottage on the Isle of Wight and was holidaying with his family on the island when the accident happened.
The inquest heard he was swept into the 150-foot cliffs at Compton Bay while kitesurfing in 30mph winds at around 5pm on August 7, 2019.
At the hearing on the Isle of Wight, Mr Hutchinson’s family members sobbed as his brother Riff’s statement was read to the court.
‘Tom was very experienced in the water and when he was young he loved the sea,’ he said.
He was airlifted to hospital but died later that evening surrounded by his family, the inquest heard
‘I was on the beach at around four in the afternoon and I saw a kitesurfer coming from my left. The person was about 30 or 40 metres away.
‘My son was in the water at the time and he shouted that it was Tom.
‘The conditions were ideal, the wind was blowing towards the beach which is what you want when you are kitesurfing.
‘As I walked towards the cliff end of the beach, I realised I could no longer see Tom’s kite out to sea. As I got closer I could see Tom’s kite lying on the beach I saw Tom and I could see a gash to his forehead and the top of his head had been smashed open.
The inquest heard he was swept into the 150-foot cliffs at Compton Bay while kitesurfing in 30mph winds at around 5pm on August 7, 2019
‘I was holding Tom’s hand and begged him to squeeze it but I don’t think he did.’
Another witness, Dan Clarke told the court: ‘I was on holiday at the time and I had gone for a walk along the cliffs. I could see the kite surfer coming in my direction and I remember thinking it was incredibly windy that day.
‘Suddenly a gust took him up into the air and over the cliff face before crashing back down into the cliff.’
Mr Clarke told the court that after the initial impact Mr Hutchinson, who was still attached to his kite, was picked up again by the wind and smashed back into the cliff.
Mr Hutchinson was winched up from the beach to the cliff-top by a team of coastguards and paramedics before being given a blood transfusion and airlifted to hospital.
He was pronounced dead several hours later. Pathologist Dr Adnan Al-Badri, who carried out the postmortem, found that Mr Hutchinson was a fit, healthy, man who had died as a result of ‘multiple traumatic injuries.’
Senior Coroner Caroline Sumeray concluded it was an ‘accidental death’ and told the court: ‘Tom was an accomplished kitesurfer who also ran an impressive business. He had an impressive reputation.
‘He was someone very experienced but as anyone who knows anything about kitesurfing, it is a sport which carries enormous risk.
‘One of the risks you cannot control is being caught be a gust of wind and being picked up and taking in a direction you do not want to go.
‘He was caught by a gust of wind and was slammed into a cliff and the impact caused him massive traumatic injuries and he was not able to recover.’
Mr Hutchinson – who grew up on the Isle of Wight – left school at 16 to work with boats, skippering vessels across the Atlantic, and later set up a successful international rigging business – Future Fibres, where he employed his brother.
Speaking outside the inquest, Riff Hutchinson said: ‘Me and my brother were very close. We had worked together for 14 years.
‘He was very lovable guy. Whenever he walked into the room everything seemed better.’