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Archive for Thursday, February 22, 1996

AVOIDING PAIN NOT WORTH THE PRICE FOR SKATEBOARDERS

February 22, 1996

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A skateboarding crash kept Jesse Heckman out of school Wednesday, but he's still not going to don protective gear when he rides his 'board.

"You take risks every day whether you're skating, driving a car, riding a bike or walking down the street," said Heckman, one of two skateboarders injured Tuesday in Lawrence. "Helmets cost a lot of money. I'm probably not going to try to do tricks like that again."

As far as elbow and knee pads, well, they cost money, too, Heckman said.

The 14-year-old said he's been skating for about a year and Tuesday was his first major accident. He crashed while attempting to ride through a hole in a parking lot in the 600 block of Vermont.

The other skater injured Tuesday was a 22-year-old Lawrence man who crashed near 14th and Ohio. He also was treated at LMH and released. Reports indicate he, too, wasn't wearing protective gear. Attempts to contact him were unsuccessful.

Scott Dieker, shift training officer for the Douglas County Ambulance Service, said it's unusual for DCAS to respond to two skateboarding accidents in the same day.

"I hope that's not a trend," he said.

Dieker offered two bits of advice for skateboarders.

"Wear your protective gear," he said. "We certainly advocate wearing a helmet and the appropriate type of pads on your arms and legs. It's been a winter where they haven't been able to practice much. Just like swimming in May, you need to start back up a little slower than you were in the fall."

Benjamin Tuttle, manager of Let It Ride, a Lawrence business that sells skateboards and snowboards, estimated it would cost $100 or more to outfit a skateboarder with a helmet, elbow and knee pads and wrist protectors.

Tuttle views helmets as a "necessary precaution" but said they are bulky and can be a hassle for 'boarders who are riding around town.

Both Heckman and Tuttle agreed that a skateboard park would help make the sport safer.

"It would keep people off the street, away from cars, away from pedestrians," said Tuttle, who is circulating a petition at his business to encourage the city to open a skateboard park.

He said once he gets 1,000 signatures on the petition, he and others will present it to the city along with information on where the park could be located and its cost. He has about 500 signatures.

"We have no choice," he said. "The city won't do it for us."

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