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Kitesurfer dies in choppy Lake Erie near Hamburg

Town of Hamburg Police said Wednesday that a man's body was recovered from Lake Erie after he apparently ran into trouble while kiteboarding.

The name of the victim had not been released. Hamburg Town Police and the Erie County Medical Examiner's Office were still investigating.

The man's situation was noticed at around 2:36 p.m. by a Hamburg police officer. Police said the Hamburg officer saw the victim operating a kite sail on Lake Erie at the beach who appeared to be having difficulty in the choppy lake.

Lifeguards at the beach attempted to reach the man, but were unsuccessful, police said.

The Town of Hamburg Water Rescue Unit was called to provide assistance, as was the Lake Shore Fire Company and the U.S. Coast Guard. Water Rescue personnel recovered the man's body from the lake, police said.

The Lake Shore Fire Company Wednesday referred all inquiries to the police department. Attempts to get a response from the Coast Guard were unsuccessful Wednesday.

Shawn Blake was almost dissuaded from going on Lake Erie Wednesday to kiteboard after hearing of the tragedy earlier off the shore of Hamburg Town Beach. At the same time, however, kiteboarding or kitesurfing is a sport that has brought him peace and contentment for 17 years.

"You're at peace and there's nothing bothering you," the 49-year-old Angola man said, attempting to explain the sensation. "You're at one, truly, with nature. You're harnessing the wind. You're riding the wind."

However, Blake and several other men at Hamburg Town Beach Wednesday who regularly go windsurfing and kitesurfing – also known as kiteboarding – told a reporter they knew the victim. None of them was present when the victim was on the lake and and reportedly ran into trouble.

Blake has been sailing on Lake Erie since he was in high school. He said it started with windsurfing. In 2001, he discovered kiteboarding.

"This all fits in my trunk. And the windsurfer guys, you know, they love it, but it's more gear," Blake added, pointing to his sparse gear he said was small enough to pack into the trunk of his compact vehicle.

Blake said: "None of us know of any kind of drowning or any kind of death related to windsurfing, kitesurfing ever since I can remember. Not around here. Now that's not an out boat, Jet Skis and things like that."

"It's sad. Who knows what happened?" Blake said.

Craig Brown, 66, of the Town of Tonawanda, starting windsurfing at age 50.

"The waves are set up real good here," Brown said.

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