Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Skateparks Save Lives (or One More Reason Why Silver Spring NEEDS a Large Skatepark)

I found this report on skateboard fatalities from Skaters for Public Skateparks' Executive Director John Leizear, on a Concrete Disciples forum. One of the writers of this report, SPS Publishing Director Peter Whitley, recently left a very eye-opening comment on Dan Reed's blog Just Up The Pike, in which Dan makes a slam-dunk case for having a large skatepark in downtown Silver Spring. In his blog post Dan points out that a tiny skate spot in Woodside cannot, and will not clear downtown streets of skaters, and Whitley's comment clearly explains why a "skate spot" is not a miniature skatepark, and why the concept of skate spots was never meant to replace community skateparks, but to augment them.

This report adds even more weight to Dan's argument in support of a downtown skatepark — and shows the potential cost of not providing a safe and legal place for Silver Spring skateboarders to pursue their passion. Sadly, number 28 on the list of 2006 skateboarding fatalities, is 44 year old Bob Wooldridge of Silver Spring, who was hit by a car while riding a skateboard in the street. (Bolding emphasis in the following report is mine.)
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 skateboarding youth died while recreating. Of these 42 deaths, 40 occurred outside of skateparks.

Skateboarding in the United States is increasing in popularity. At SPS we believe that accessible skateboarding facilities are the best way to encourage this healthy activity safe. Public parks and areas without vehicular traffic, such as plazas and city squares, are the safest places for skateboarders to recreate yet increasingly skaters are kicked out of these environments and must find new places to recreate. 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. At SPS, we hope that these figures illuminate the gravity of this tragic problem.

2006 saw a broad range of Skaters lose their life. The youngest 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, 2006. Our Brother, Ian was the 17th victim of 2006. In contrast, 2006's oldest skater to die was Mr. Steve Helton of Buhl, Idaho. Mr. Helton was 49 at the time of the accident, and was the 38th fatality of 2006. Ian and Steve died doing something they enjoyed, and were separated by hundreds of miles and 42 years 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 it's 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 numbers of children become overweight, and the fact that traditional sports have declined in participation, it is paramount we re-activate our communities with the desires of today's sporting and recreating youth. Support your local skateboarders, and lobby your Governments to build skateparks to keep our communities safe and active.

Fatalities by Age (in years):

12 and under: 6
13 – 18: 21
19 – 24: 12
25 and up: 3
*14 – 15: 12 Fatalities

By Gender
Male: 40
Female: 2

By Location
Within skatepark: 2
Outside skatepark: 40

Research: John Leizear
SPS Members
Writers: John Leizear
Peter Whitley

for more information contact:
John Leizear
(540) 219-4096

This report may be reprinted without SPS consent, however SPS and the Research Author must be credited.

1.) Jason Rundell (23)
Hit by car street skating (ME)
Teen killed while skateboarding

2.) Clinton Kirby Roberts (13)
Hit by vehicle while street skating (AL)
Classmates remember teen killed in skateboard accident

3.) Travis Baldwin (14)
Hit by truck while street skating (Oildale, CA)

4.) Reid Menzer (14)
Hit by car while street skating (PA)

5.) Blake Hand (14)
Hit and run while street skating (BIRMINGHAM, Ala)

6.) Unnamed man (age unknown)
Struck by truck while street skating (WV)

7.) Dustin Wayne Prine (16)
Struck by truck while skating street (TX)

8.) Austin Sparks (13)
Struck by driver while skating street (TX)

9.) Michael Santos (19)
Struck and killed by car while skating street (HI)

10.) Albert Vasquez (1
Struck and killed by truck while skating street (TX)

11.) Tony Mitchell (1
Struck and killed by truck(NM)

12.) Dillon Meheut (9)
Struck and killed by car while skating street (TX)

13.) David Allen Hays (23)
Died after holding onto car (Rancho Penasquitos, CA)

14.) Travis Gracey (21
Struck and killed by motorcycle while skating street (Seattle, WA)

15.) Brian Samson (19)
Died after holding onto golf cart (FL)

16.) Josh Kilnger (19)
Died after falling while skating a hill (NV)

17.) Ian Campbell (7)
Died after struck by a car while skating (Soulsbyville, CA)

18.) Michael Goodman (15)
Died after falling from his board while skating street (Orlando, FL)

19.) Matthew Gallops (11
Struck and killed by a car while skating street (Savanna, GA)

20.) Austin M. Gagner (10)
Hit by a bus as he was crossing the street on a skateboard (Rice Lake, MN)

21.) Frank Russo (13)
Struck head while skating in a skatepark, not wearing helmet (Port Angeles, WA)

22.) Ashley Philips (16)
Struck by a car while riding in the street (Clearwater, FL)

23.) Jonathan Brock (17)
Struck by a car while riding in the street (Conway, SC)

24.) Brett Neeley (21)
Lost control rounding a corner while riding in the street and struck his head (Provo, UT)

25.) Joshua McSweeney (15)
Died after being in a coma due to injuries sustained when he was struck by a car while riding in the street (San Antonio, TX)

26.) Jeremy Best (15)
Died from injuries after being struck by an SUV while crossing a highway on a skateboard (West Islip, NY)

27.) Gabriel Guerrero (15)
Struck and killed while skating in the street, by drunk driver in a vehicle with headlights turned off (Harlingen, TX)

28.) Bob Wooldridge (44)
Struck by a car while skating in a neighborhood street (Silver Spring, MD)

29.) Bob Samson (23)
Fell from skateboard and died when dog ran in front of him (Alaska)

30.) Tommy Michalson (12)
Died while skating street (Crested Butte, CO)

31.) Jeremy Allen Suntken (20)
Died while skating prefab skatepark (Red Wing, Wis)

32.) Matthew Monroe (15)
Struck and killed by Amtrak train while skateboarding with headphones on (LANCASTER COUNTY, PA)

33.) Steve Helton (49)
Fell and died while skating longboard (Buhl, Idaho)

34.) Justin Freeman (12)
Struck and killed by auto while skating street (Everett, WA)

35.) Jack Pellicano (14)
Struck and killed by truck while skating street (Newport Beach, CA)

36.) Robert Jay Shenk (25)
Struck and killed by truck while skating street (BUENA PARK, Calif)

37.) Jonathan Tyler Litton (14)
Struck and killed by truck while skating street (Hiddenite, NC)

38.) D.J. Epperson (13)
Died while street skating (Omaha, NE)

39.) Christian Corneau (14)
Died while street skating, hit by an automobile. He was wearing a helmet at the time of death; his skateboard was broken in half. (Dallas, TX)

40.) Rebecca Mead (21)
died when she fell off her out-of-control skateboard and hit her head

41.) David Bruce Schleiden (15)
Stuck and killed by a car in traffic (Cape Coral, FL)

42.) Patrick Butler (20)
Died street skating in Aberdeen, MD

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