Skateboarding Casualties (2006)

Editor’s Note: Although this report is nearing five years old it continues to be a relevant to today’s skatepark advocate. This is powerful and tragic data; a very real reminder of what each of us face simply by doing what we love. One death is unbearably tragic. 42 deaths in 12 months is unspeakable.

As skateboarders we manage risk every time we step on a board. We accept this risk implicitely and for most of us it gives the activity gravitas. Without risk the thrill evaporates. Managing risk is a two-part proposition: There is the probability of your failure and your stake in the outcome. For the people below, the stake was their lives. Whether they understood that or not is not relevant. Whether they acted “responsibly” or not is also not relevant. They all believed that what they were doing was within an acceptable tolerance. This is not their fault. It’s not anyone’s fault. However, it provides us with some valuable insight into what skateboarders are after and how we, as a society, can reward the best of the activity while reducing or eliminating the worst.

This is not a mere list of kids in the wrong place at the wrong time. This is a call to arms for all of us to intervene in this preventable tragedy.

Throughout 2006 Skaters for Public Skateparks (SPS) tracked several aspects of skateboarding activity including skateboard-related fatalities as reported in the media, online sources, and other publishing sources. On average 2006 had nearly one person killed per week while skateboarding; a total of 42 skateboarders. Of these 42 deaths, 40 occurred outside of skateparks.

Kody Doolittle, 18, died after falling while being towed by a vehicle in August, 2010. (Los Angeles, California)

Skateboarding in the United States is increasing in popularity. At SPS we know that skateparks are the best way to encourage this healthy activity in the safest possible way. However, relatively few communities have accessible skateparks, and fewer still have skateparks that are offer compelling terrain and are large enough to accommodate all of the nearby users. When there are no skateparks, skaters skate wherever they can. If the skateparks are poorly built, it doesn’t retain their interest and challenge them in the right way. If the skatepark is well designed and constructed, it’s often crowded beyond capacity from the terrain-starved region. There simply aren’t enough good skateparks.

Public parks and areas without vehicular traffic, such as plazas and city squares, are the best places for skateboarders to recreate. Skaters are routinely kicked out of these public places. This can lead to consequences that every person in the community should find unacceptable. Skateboarding youth are being killed in the streets at an alarming rate because they lack appropriate places to recreate. Skateboarders need skateparks. We hope that these figures illuminate the gravity of this tragic problem.

The youngest skateboarding casualty of 2006 was seven-year-old Ian Campbell from Soulsbyville, California who was struck by a truck while skating in front of his house on March 15. Campbell was the 17th victim of 2006. In contrast, 2006′s oldest skater to die was Steve Helton of Buhl, Idaho. Helton was 49 at the time of the accident and was the 38th fatality of the year. Ian and Steve were separated by hundreds of miles and decades of experience but they shared a love of skateboarding.

The research supports a view that most skateboarders share through personal observation. In itself skateboarding is not dangerous but when combined with vehicular traffic it can be deadly. In 2006, 27 skateboarders were struck and killed by vehicles. Texas recorded seven fatal vehicular accidents involving skaters while California had four. No state is immune from these tragedies. Maine, Alabama, Minnesota, South Carolina, and many others each faced this preventable tragedy.

The future looks bright for skateboarders everywhere. Communities across the nation are realizing the value of skateparks. Fearful, suspicious attitudes towards skateboarders are melting away as skateboarding advocates continue to present a vision where skateboarding is accepted as a healthy, positive recreational choice for our youth and young-at-heart. In a society that is seeing staggering under its own obesity—and the fact that traditional sports participation is in steady decline—it is paramount we realign our communal view of what healthy activity is. Support your local skateboarders and lobby your Governments to build skateparks to keep our communities safe and active.

Fatalities by Age:

12 and younger: 6
13 — 18: 21
19 — 24: 12
25 and older: 3

(12 of the 42 deaths were either 14 or 15 years old. This is the “spike” in the bell curve.)

By Gender
Male: 40
Female: 2

By Location
Within skatepark: 2
Outside skatepark: 40

Their Names (and Ages):
1.) Jason Rundell (23)
Hit by car. (Decatur, ME)
http://www.decaturdaily.com/decaturdail … teen.shtml

2.) Clinton Kirby Roberts (13)
Hit by car. (AL)
www.waff.com/Global/story.asp?S=4339890&nav=0hBE

3.) Travis Baldwin (14)
Hit by car. (Oildale, CA)
http://www.bakersfield.com/updates/stor … 7351c.html

4.) Reid Menzer (14)
Hit by car. (PA)
http://www.ydr.com/newsfull/ci_3435999

5.) Blake Hand (14)
Hit by car. (Birmingham, Ala)
http://www.myfoxal.com/myfox/pages/News … geId=3.2.1

6.) Unnamed man (age unknown)
Hit by car. (WV)
http://www.wtap.com/news/headlines/2260201.html

7.) Dustin Wayne Prine (16)
Hit by car. (TX)
http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/met … 60289.html

8.) Austin Sparks (13)
Hit by car. (TX)
http://www.kcentv.com/news/c-article.php?cid=1&nid=9135

9.) Michael Santos (19)
Hit by car. (HI)
http://www.khnl.com/Global/story.asp?S=4587357

10.) Albert Vasquez (18)
Hit by car. (TX)
http://www.team4news.com/Global/story.a … 5&nav=0w0v

11.) Tony Mitchell (18)
Hit by car. (NM)
http://www.daily-times.com/apps/pbcs.dl … 20316/1001[/b]

12.) Dillon Meheut (9)
Hit by car. (TX)

13.) David Allen Hays (23)
Fell while being towed by car. (Rancho Penasquitos, CA)
http://www.thevillagenews.com/story.asp?story_ID=13924

14.) Travis Gracey (21
Hit by motorcycle. (Seattle, WA)
http://www.komotv.com/news/archive/4185331.html

15.) Brian Samson (19)
Fell while being towed by vehicle. (FL)
http://www.theledger.com/apps/pbcs.dll/ … 80369/1004

16.) Josh Kilnger (19)
Fell while street skating. (NV)

17.) Ian Campbell (7)
Hit by car. (Soulsbyville, CA)
http://www.uniondemocrat.com/news/story … y_no=20447

18.) Michael Goodman (15)
Fell while street skating. (Orlando, FL)
http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/loc … 7356.story

19.) Matthew Gallops (11
Hit by car. (Savanna, GA)
http://www.ledger-enquirer.com/mld/ledg … 678394.htm

20.) Austin M. Gagner (10)
Hit by bus. (Rice Lake, MN)
http://www.duluthsuperior.com/mld/dulut … 734444.htm

21.) Frank Russo (13)
Fell while skating in a skatepark. (Port Angeles, WA)
http://www.peninsuladailynews.com/sited … tml/260064

22.) Ashley Philips (16)
Hit by car. (Clearwater, FL)
http://www.tampabays10.com/news/local/a … ryid=33673

23.) Jonathan Brock (17)
Hit by car. (Conway, SC)
http://www.myrtlebeachonline.com/mld/my … 898361.htm

24.) Brett Neeley (21)
Fell while street skating. (Provo, UT)
http://newsnet.byu.edu/story.cfm/60277

25.) Joshua McSweeney (15)
Hit by car. (San Antonio, TX)
http://www.ksat.com/news/9450233/detail.html

26.) Jeremy Best (15)
Hit by car. (West Islip, NY)
http://www.newsday.com/news/local/longi … -headlines

27.) Gabriel Guerrero (15)
Hit by car, (drunk driver). (Harlingen, TX)
http://www.team4news.com/Global/story.a … 2&nav=0w0v

28.) Bob Wooldridge (44)
Hit by car. (Silver Spring, MD)
http://www.gazette.net/stories/071706/s … 1962.shtml

29.) Bob Samson (23)
Fell while street skating. (Whitehorse, AK)
http://www.whitehorsestar.com/auth.php?r=43566

30.) Tommy Michalson (12)
Fell while street skating. (Crested Butte, CO)
http://www.kansascity.com/mld/kansascit … 154679.htm

31.) Jeremy Allen Suntken (20)
Fell while riding in skatepark. (Red Wing, Wis)
http://www.grandforks.com/mld/grandfork … 190367.htm
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=301kyzx_IFE

32.) Matthew Monroe (15)
Hit by train. (Lancaster County, PA)
http://local.lancasteronline.com/4/24782

33.) Steve Helton (49)
Fell while longboarding. (Buhl, Idaho)
http://www.magicvalley.com/articles/200 … tate.1.txt

34.) Justin Freeman (12)
Hit by car. (Everett, WA)

35.) Jack Pellicano (14)
Hit by car. (Newport Beach, CA)
http://www.ocregister.com/ocregister/ho … 266628.php

36.) Robert Jay Shenk (25)
Hit by car. (Buena Park, CA)
http://cbs2.com/topstories/local_story_256005237.html

37.) Jonathan Tyler Litton (14)
Hit by car. (Hiddenite, NC)

38.) D.J. Epperson (13)
Fell while street skating. (Omaha, NE)
http://www.bellevueleader.com/site/tab3 … ins%20here

39.) Christian Corneau (14)
Hit by car. He was wearing a helmet at the time. (Dallas, TX)
http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent … a185.html#

40.) Rebecca Mead (21)
Lost control of skateboard

41.) David Bruce Schleiden (15)
Stuck by car (Cape Coral, FL)

42.) Patrick Butler (20)
Died street skating in Aberdeen, MD
http://www.thewbalchannel.com/news/10621086/detail.html

Skaters for Public Skateparks Research Committee
This report may be reprinted without SPS consent. Please credit SPS Research.