WEST PALM BEACH, Florida -- Doctors said a Jupiter teenager involved in a near-fatal kite-boarding accident off Jupiter Beach should have a full recovery.
Medical officials said 17-year-old Conner Kempe, a star quarterback at The Benjamin School, is lucky to be alive after a strong gust of wind picked up his kite-board and blew him about 300 yards to shore Sunday. Witnesses said Kempe's body slammed into several objects, including a parked car, fence and tree.
Kiteboards have an emergency release that separates the kite from the board. It is unclear why Conner was unable to separate from his kite-board. Jeremy Green, owner of Jupiter Kiteboarding in Tequesta, said it's easy to activate, and Conner should have been able to free himself before he was in danger.
Green said he arrived at the scene about 30 minutes after Kempe was flown to St. Mary's.
"There were several squalls coming through, and the reason we weren't out there was because of the weather," he said.
Green said Kempe was surfing with a 14-meter kite. "That's a large kite," he said. "It's overkill with that amount of wind."
Kempe was truama-hawked to St. Mary's Medical Center, where he received last rites, but he started to make a full recovery 24 hours later.
Doctors said they had initially feared he had severe brain damage or was paralyzed.
The teenager's father, Joseph Kempe, said he is relieved his son is recovering.
"To go from that to him being able to play ball again within 24 hours -- the extreme in emotion is just tough to handle. [I] couldn't have been any sadder -- couldn't have been any happier," he said.
Medical officials said Conner has a bruised lung and fractures to his face, ankle, and patella. His father said he's banged up but doesn't need to have any surgeries.
He also said Conner is starting to talk again, move around, and is expected to make a full recovery within four to six weeks.
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