CALIFORNIA — At least six young people under 20 years old have been killed in the first six months of 2015 and three others under 25 years old in the latter part of 2015 died in skateboard accidents with motorists throughout California.
The latest tragedy took place on July 22 when a 6-year-old boy was struck by an SUV in a parking lot at a Santa Ana apartment complex. Three of the deaths took place in the same week. An 11-year-old boy was killed as he attempted to cross Firestone Boulevard on Monday, June 10th in South Gate; a 15-year-old boy was killed and his 13-year-old cousin injured by a hit-and-run driver on Friday, June 12th in an unmarked crosswalk at Montrose and Alvarado streets in Echo Park; and a 17-year-old boy on Strathern Street on Sunday, June 14th in Canoga Park.
“These accidents are even more tragic as they involve young people,” said Attorney James Johnson. “One thing that is common about these crashes is they all took place in the nighttime as they juveniles attempted to cross the street.”
Young people are often the ones killed in skateboard accidents. These are juveniles who unlike adults have not yet developed the ability to judge when to cross the street and can often misjudge the speed of an approaching vehicle or the time it could take to cross.
“Motorists should always keep an eye out for young people who are pedestrians whether they are on a skateboard, a bicycle or on foot,” Johnson said. “As adults, we are better able to react to them, than they are to our vehicles.”
Despite Risk Skateboarding is Popular in Southern California
Skateboarders are typically more edgy than the average person. The boards they ride are not just a fun mode of transportation for many American youth and adults, but also an extension of who they are.
Since its humble beginnings in the 1950s, when people screwed roller skate wheels onto the bottom of a wooden board to its more recent popularity as an extreme sport, the skateboard has always been somewhat of a risky ride for most people.
Anyone who has ever attempted to ride a skateboard knows it takes considerable time to master and requires coordination and balance to ride well. Starting out usually involves a lot of falling down. Even the best riders will fall down as they work on new tricks.
Skateboarders are also known to perform high-speed stunts while riding such as jumping curbs, riding rails or doing kick flips with their boards. While it can make getting somewhere more fun, these stunts can often result in injury.
A popular pastime among California skateboarders is riding longboards down hills or steep inclines. This type of skateboard activity is one of the most dangerous due to the high speeds involved and being at odds with motorists on roadways. Even with a helmet and other protective gear, this is an inherently dangerous sport.
Many Southern California longboard riders have been killed or badly injured in this type of activity. One 21-year-old rider was killed in March 2015 while riding downhill he veered across double yellow lines on Glendora Mountain Road and was hit by a dump truck.
These riders pick up tremendous speed making it difficult to stop when approaching oncoming traffic.
Popular Culture and Skateboarding
One of the riskier stunts a skateboarder can attempt is to hold onto a moving vehicle and be pulled behind it. This stun is called “skitching,” and it was made famous in the movie “Back to the Future.”
Skateboarders today are now trying a whole litany of tricks due to the advent of YouTube, Instagram and Facebook. Many young people and adults enjoy video-taping their own stunts and sharing them on these social media sites with others. This can give other riders something to emulate and put novice riders at risk for serious injuries.
Skateparks are popular among riders and there are many private and public venues available throughout California for enthusiasts. Although there is much risk to injury at these venues, riders are typically required to wear safety gear such as helmets and knee and elbow pads to cut down on injuries.
Skateboarders and Car Accidents
However, the biggest risk to a skateboarder is when they ride in roadways shared with motor vehicles.
An estimated 28 people were killed in 2014 in traffic accidents throughout the United States involving skateboards and motorists, according to statistics compiled by skatepark.org. As the popularity of the sport has widened to include riders of all ages from young children to adults, there have been more and more injuries and even deaths over the years.
Roughly 78,000 emergency room visits due to skateboard injuries were reported in 2011 by young people under 19 years old, according to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. In fact, roughly half of all skateboard injuries were to children under 15 years old and 85 percent are boys.
According to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, the number of skateboard injuries each year is roughly 8.9 per 1,000 participants.
There’s no question that skateboarders are some of the most vulnerable pedestrians on our roadways. To make matters worse, they are generally not permitted to ride on most city sidewalks, forcing riders to hit the streets in bicycle lanes and often without a helmet or any protection.
To make matters worse, many riders fail to wear safety gear such as helmets to protect them from a crash.
Common Injuries for Skateboarders
The importance of wearing a helmet while riding a skateboard can not be over emphasized. Most skateboarders who die in an accident are not wearing a helmet. One mother told a newspaper after her son died in a fall on the sidewalk to wear a helmet to honor him. The teenager rarely wore one and called helmets “geeky.” He died of a massive head injury and like many who are killed in various types of crashes, might have lived with a helmet on his head.
A young 27-year-old Santa Barbara woman suffered major injuries when she crashed head-on into a car while skateboarding down Gibraltar Road on June 8, 2015. She was wearing a helmet, but firefighters found it in the bushes after it flew off her head upon impact. She suffered facial fractures, internal bleeding and swelling in her skull.
Statistics show that roughly 75 percent of fatalities by suffered by skateboarders, scooter riders or bicyclists involved children who may have lived if they had worn a helmet.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conducted a study in 2011 on skateboarders and concussions. The results were that skateboarders were a smaller pool of athletes than other sports such as soccer and baseball, but they had a significant number of Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) in comparison.
In a 2011 study, the CDC reported over 6,000 traumatic brain injuries (TBI) resulting from skateboarding in the preceding decade. Despite the smaller pool of skateboarders, these numbers were not much lower than concussions resulting from nationwide sports like soccer and baseball.
The skateboard is popular, but not as popular as a bicycle which is the top consumer product for injuries National SAFE KIDS Campaign
Some of the typical injuries skateboarders suffer are:
- Head injuries
- Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI)
- Road Rash
- Spinal Cord Injuries (SCI)
Safety Measures for Skateboard Riders
Do not ride on roadways
Always wear protective gear: wrist guards, knee and elbow pads, shoes
Strap the helmet on and make sure if fits properly
Don’t grab onto moving vehicles while riding
Do not attempt tricks on roadways
If you are falling, try to roll or crouch down to lessen impact
Never wear headphones while riding a skateboard
Only one person on a board
2015 California Fatal Skateboard Accidents
SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO — October 2, 2015 — A 23-year-old skateboarder identified as Cesar Medina, 23, of San Juan Capistrano was killed in a hit-and-run accident on Del Obispo Street. The driver was eventually located the next day and identified as 19-year-old Andrew Michaels of Laguna Niguel. He was arrested on felony hit-and-run charges.
BELL — August 31, 2015 — Joshua Maldonado, 17, who went to Bell High School was killed in a hit-and-run crash while riding his skateboard on Gage Avenue.
DOWNEY –August 8, 2015 — Mitchell Albert Duran, 20, of Downey died when a driver struck him while riding a skateboard on Firestone Boulevard about 2 a.m. The driver of the 2014 Honda Accord remained at the scene.
SANTA ANA — July 22, 2015 — A six-year-old boy who had been riding a skateboard in a parking lot at an apartment complex where he lived rode in front of an SUV and was killed on Fairview Street.
CANOGA PARK — June 14, 2015 — A 17-year-old boy is killed when he allegedly misjudges when the traffic light was going to turn green and stepped off a curb with his skateboard into the path of an oncoming gray BMW 330i on Strathern Street in Canoga Park at 9:34 p.m.
ECHO PARK – June 12, 2015 — A 15-year-old boy was killed and his 13-year-old cousin injured in a hit-and-run car accident in an unmarked crosswalk at Montrose and Alvarado streets about 10 p.m. The driver fled the scene of the crash.
SOUTH GATE – June 10, 2015 — An 11-year-old boy attempting to ride his skateboard across Firestone Boulevard about 9:20 p.m. was hit by a driver and died.
INDIO —- April 2015 — A 19-year-old Indio man wassailed when his runaway skateboard rolled into traffic and he was struck by a Jeep Wrangler as he tried to retrieve the board at Avenue 43, near Calhoun Street.
CARLSBAD – February 12, 2015 — A 17-year-old girl was arrested on hit-and-run and DUI manslaughter charges after she struck and killed a 20-year-old man on a skateboard on Carlsbad Boulevard, north of Island Way about 11 p.m.
Legal Help for Skateboard Riders
Skateboarders are pedestrians under California law and are subject to laws just as motorists are. There are times when a skateboarder may be liable for their own injury or death, but certainly there are times when a driver is at fault or partially at fault for an accident. If you are hurt in a skateboard accident it’s important that you do not discuss fault with others at the scene or the insurance company.
Drivers can be held liable if they did not have the right of way, they were distracted, under the influence of alcohol or drugs, speeding, reckless, hit-and-run or failed to stop for a traffic sign or light. If you are involved in a collision with a driver you many not know the whole story and you could weaken your potential claim by speaking with the other party or insurance adjuster before going over the facts of your case with an attorney.
Speak with an experienced attorney about your legal rights. Call Johnson Attorneys Group at 800-235-6801 and ask for a free consultation.
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