Woman, 83, dies after being struck by skateboarder
Maryann Slettehaugh was in a crosswalk when she was struck by a skateboarder.
July 7th, 2011
01:14 PM ET

Woman, 83, dies after being struck by skateboarder

An 83-year-old Northern California woman has died after being hit by a skateboarder moving at 15 to 20 miles an hour, police said.

Maryann Slettehaugh was crossing a street in Capitola, California, Tuesday afternoon when she was struck by a 17-year-old boy, Capitola police Sgt. Andrew Dally told CNN affiliate KSBW-TV.

Dally said the skateboarder, who was traveling down a steep hill, jumped off the board and tried to avoid colliding with Slettehaugh but was unable to, according to KSBW. He stayed with the injured woman after the collision.

Slettehaugh was in a crosswalk and a panel truck had stopped to let her pass, according to media reports.

Slettehaugh was airlifted to a San Jose hospital, where she was pronounced dead, CNN affiliate KION-TV reported.

The teen has not been charged in the incident, but detectives are investigating, Capitola police Detective Marquis Booth told CNN.

Booth said municipal code prohibits skateboarding the Capitola Village commercial district where the accident occurred and the teen was cited for a violation.

"It just isn't a good mix when we have skateboarders," Booth said. "You can gain some pretty good speed going down that hill."

Dally told KSBW, "It was not a malicious type of act. He seemed like a pretty clean-cut and honest kid."

Slettehaugh's husband of 64 years, George Slettehaugh, told CNN affiliate KTVU-TV his wife had been hit by a skateboard 15 years ago.

"She was leery of them and tried to avoid them," George Slettehaugh said in an interview. "[She] kept watching for them all the time."

Maryann Slettehaugh was on her daily walk from her home to the beach when she was struck, according to media reports.

"It was her daily routine. She lived just two or three blocks away," Dally told KSBW.

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Filed under: California
soundoff (1,053 Responses)
  1. stopbeingmean

    "Common Sense no longer exists.....clearly

    See? THIS is how you handle accidents that result in death, people. It happens all the time. You stay with the victim. You contact authorities. You own up to your actions (or lack thereof). And you hold yourself accountable and trust that the earlier events add up to an honest accident or mistake with a reasonable form of punishment. You don't go shopping, party for a month, come back to the accident, duct tape it, bag it up, and drive to the nearest swamp. YOU HEAR THAT JUROR #3? F_kking idiots."

    COMMON – You're a genius. I respect the law and the courts decision, but this actually made me laugh.

    July 7, 2011 at 8:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Thanks for sharing the obvious, putz

      It's all in the name...

      July 7, 2011 at 8:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dan123

      Right on! Stopbeingmean hits the nail on the head.

      July 7, 2011 at 8:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • MLS

      stopbeingmean, you are 100% . correct!!!

      July 7, 2011 at 8:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • ignorance at its finest

      But I got to admit it, YOU ARE SO RIGHT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      July 7, 2011 at 8:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • stopbeingmean

      -LOL guys that wasnt me that posted that. That was some guy named "Common Sense no longer exists.....clearly". I reposted it because it was THE most AWESOME comment I've read on this thread! Glad you agree!-

      July 7, 2011 at 8:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • RCBinTN

      It's not an honest accident. Skate boarding is not allowed there, and for good reason.

      July 7, 2011 at 8:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • stopbeingmean

      Neither is taking the life of a child (be it by chloroform or duct tape or suffocation in the back of a trunk) but at least pretend like it is if that's your claim. Oh no, wait. Lie about it and elude honest answers. That's how you pass murder off as an "accident" and get no punishment for it. At least this guys accident wasn't INTENT on causing death.

      July 7, 2011 at 8:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dan123

      To RCBinTN: There are no "honest" accidents. Accidents are just that, accidents. Stopbeingmean's point is that accidents happen, it's what you do after the accident that defines your character. This kid stayed with the old lady and did the right thing. He did not pull a Casey Anthony. People want to demonize the kid because he's a skateboarder, which has got absolutely nothing to do with it. My point if is if this woman got killed by a driver who was distracted by a cell phone it wouldn't have been news.

      July 7, 2011 at 8:51 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Dan123

    Scene in CNN Newsroom, Web Page editor. "Hmmm, what to post, what to post...young Mom gets away with murder...spare me, that's so yesterday. Old woman killed in motor vehicle pedestrian accident...lame. More non combatants killed in Mideast unrest...snore. What's this, old woman dies in skateboarder pedestrian accident...this has got potential, quick get me a race check! She's white?! Lead with it. LEAD WITH IT!"

    July 7, 2011 at 8:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • ignorance at its finest

      funny, real funny. lmbo

      July 7, 2011 at 8:28 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Joe

    What if Skateboarding was legal in the are? Would that mean the kid gets of scott free? Skateboarding isn't illegal in areas because of safety its primarily because people don't like skateboarding teenagers. I don't know if it applies in every case, but sometimes the consequences of an action are unforeseeable. Lets say you are hiking on 100% legal terrain. There is a boulder on the trail. You sit on the boulder (violating no laws/signs). The boulder falls and hits a car. Are you responsible? You violated no laws. Now say there is a sign that says don't feed pigeons in a park. You feed pigeons, a pigeon that you fed goes and hits a car causing a horrible crash. Are you responsible for the car crash? That wasn't really a foreseeable consequence. The law was there to prevent pigeons from getting addicted to human company and not for safety. Just because you violated a sign, does that mean you are more responsible for unforeseeable consequences? Don't compare texting while driving, DUI, etc those are actions with very foreseeable consequences.

    July 7, 2011 at 8:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • ignorance at its finest

      Joe everything u said sounds good, but maybe someone did foresee this happening or maybe they made the law to also protect skateboarders from harming themselves going down that hill in that area. Some people really don't believe in looking at things from all point of views, guess you're 1 of 'em. Tell me, if it were your granny that he killed would you feel the same way? I don't think his life should be ruined but I think he needs to have some kind of punishment for taking a life no matter how "good" he may seem, we all know looks can be deceiving!!!

      July 7, 2011 at 8:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Seriously

      Actually, I think there is a somewhat forseeable consquence associated with skating down a slope where you can achieve a speed of 20 mph in a commercial shopping district. That's probably why they don't put commercial shopping districts at the very bottom of a ski slope. I think for most people who don't like skateboarding teenagers, it's because they don't like having their body run into by a skateboarding teenager. Personally, I don't care if they're a teenager or a 45 year old, I don't like anything that causes me physical pain as a result of another person deciding that their right to do something careless is more important than my right to physical safety when I leave my home.

      July 7, 2011 at 8:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Craig

      If skateboarding was legal, which it isn't, then the same rules of the road would apply...namely that traffic must stop for an occupied cross walk. That same is true for bicyclists, people riding mopeds, cars, trucks, and even emergency vehicles. So...in short, if you want to use the streets (illegally) the rules still apply. Yes, it's nice he stopped and stayed around, but that doesn't change the facts that got us to this sad point. His illegal actions led directly to the death of an innocent person! That's what we should be considering. He made choices, contrary to the law, and he needs to face the consequences just as any other person on that road would.

      July 7, 2011 at 8:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • GnatB

      Accidents happen. Life's fragile. It's bad enough one life was ended by this accident, to end a second life by punishing the skateboarder for anything more than the violation he was already cited for would simply be a tragedy.

      Too many in our society always want to blame somebody.

      July 7, 2011 at 8:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      I personally dont' believe in letting murders and rapists serve anything other then a life sentence. I believe DUIs and texting while driving should have much more severe consequences. But I don't believe that you can assign responsibility to people when an unforeseeable consequence arises. I'm not 100% sure on this particular case, its more in the white/grey area instead of just white. One of my friends told his best friend that he had to study for a test, and that friend got into a terrible car crash (real life story). That friend thought honestly for six months that it was his fault because he blew his friend off to study, because it was a freak car accident, wrong place wrong time and wouldn't have happened if he hadn't blown her off. But it was something with unforeseeable consequences. If the accident hadn't happened he made the right choice (in this particular case). But because it did, he made the wrong choice. Maybe because I dealt with something like that in real life, I feel this way. My friend straight up thought he should turn himself in for about 3 days after the accident.

      July 7, 2011 at 8:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Craig

      You're correct @GnatB. The problem is that this wasn't an accident. Yes, he probably didn't intend to kill anyone, nor probably even to injure anyone. However, he did set out to break the law, and once he started down that path (no pun intended) he needs to accept the consequences. If he had followed the law, which is there for a reason, this couldn't have happened. His choice...his responsibility...his fault. This is not an accident. This is the result of someone thumbing his nose at the rules of society. If he isn't legally responsible, I hope the family takes him to civil trial, and cleans him out. He's not a victim...he's the perpetrator!

      July 8, 2011 at 3:45 am | Report abuse |
  4. Truth and the American Way

    Skate trash. Run over him with a rusty Buick.

    July 7, 2011 at 8:17 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Denny

    The key word here is "accident". It's tragic, it's senseless, etc.... but ultimately it was just an accident. The kid should get cited for skating in an area where he supposedly wasn't supposed to, and that should be the end of it. The woman could have just as easily died by an unleashed dog knocking her over and causing her to hit her head.... or slipping on a piece of litter (would you try to nail the litterer with manslaughter?). Too many people with a blood lust in this country.

    July 7, 2011 at 8:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dee

      ummm, no. If you are reckless in a car and kill someone it doesn't matter if it was an "accident," you are charged with manslaughter. He was reckless.

      July 7, 2011 at 9:00 pm | Report abuse |
  6. ignorance at its finest


    July 7, 2011 at 8:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • So are you continuing your thought?

      So you ended your rant with "Period.." To me that is the same as ... meaning that there is a continuation of thought. Is there? This was an accident, and the kid tried to avoid the collision, but was unable to do so. He stayed and took full responsiblitiy, and other than the citation, should not be prosocuted. I would feel the same way if it had been my grandmother. Accidents do happen. No need to start a linch mob.

      July 7, 2011 at 8:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • ignorance at its finest

      I see ignorance is at its finest =) and the rest of the thought for you is this...he should be held responsible for the death of a human being, no matter how it happened. I never once said he should be linched, which may be lurking around in the back of your mind. The punishment should fit the crime, yes it was an accident & yes he was breaking the law by riding in that area. At some point in time, there is a REASON for each & every law that gets passed & out into affect. I think a lot of community service, restriction from his board, which I'm sure he probably doesn't want to have anything to do with anyway, and whatever else to let people know when you do unresponsible things you could have terrible consequences,PERIOD. =)

      July 7, 2011 at 8:56 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Andrew

    This is one of those things were nobody can really be blamed.
    No one was at fault.
    It was an accident.
    They still happen.

    July 7, 2011 at 8:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Liz in CA

      NO ONE WAS AT FAULT????? THE KID ON THE SKATEBOARD WAS AT FAULT, DIRECTLY! I don't "hate" skateboarders, but I do NOT understand why the rules prohibiting them from skating in parking lots of shopping centers are not enforced. Near my home, one center is a gathering for these boarders. I've nearly hit on who ignored my car and was blasting down a hill with a huge sign saying "Skateboarding Prohibited" and when I honked, he flipped ME off. It's that kind of behavior that gets them barred from public places. The kid DID admit his offense, stayed with the victim of his actions, and I hope his parents give him hell over it! Possibly he'll learn a lesson here, and he should be cited for the injury caused by his actions, not just a traffic violation!

      July 7, 2011 at 8:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dan123

      The point here LizinCA is people do stupid things all the time in all manner of transport: Texting while driving, cyclists, motorcyclists, sleepy truck drivers who push DOT regulations. In the opinion of the CNN editorial board what makes this sensational (read ratings) is the fact that the kid was riding a skateboard and therefore will get website hits and ratings. Forget about the fact that the kid did the right thing, stayed with the old woman as she was dying, accepted the consequence of his actions, and waited for authorities to arrive. He did not pull a Casey Anthony and attempt to cover up poor decision making, but owned up to his responsibility. The fact that the kid was on a skateboard has bugger all to do with it, and only a means by which outlets like CNN manipulate stereotypes to improve ratings, website traffic, and insite hate.

      July 8, 2011 at 12:36 am | Report abuse |
  8. Shawn


    July 7, 2011 at 8:21 pm | Report abuse |
  9. FaolRua

    I live near the area where this occurred. For those who are wondering why the truck had stopped to let the woman cross, there is a stop sign and a marked pedestrian crossing there. California law requires vehicles to yield to pedestrians in that situation. The skateboarder ran the stop sign.

    I've come close to being mowed down many times by skateboarders and bicyclists (and the cyclists are, I must say, about the worst for disobeying traffic laws. At least the skaters have the excuse that they're not legally considered vehicles. I've had cyclists nearly hit me as they blew through a stop sign and then turn around and flip me off for daring to be in "their" road!)

    I feel sorry for the kid. He did a dumb thing and someone died because of it. He's going to have to live with that for the rest of his life. I don't think that legal consequences, beyond the traffic citation he's received, are in order here.

    July 7, 2011 at 8:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Beadlesaz

      FaolRua – thank you for a sensible and sensitive comment.

      July 7, 2011 at 8:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • FaolRua

      If anyone is interested in a slightly more in-depth story from a local newspaper, here's one:


      July 7, 2011 at 8:45 pm | Report abuse |
  10. fairy

    It's like skateboards were that poor lady's nightmare. Rest in peace Ms.

    July 7, 2011 at 8:23 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Capiers

    I think you misread that post.. They weren't suggesting you duct tape the old women up. it was a reference to the casey court case and what the mother did to her child.. It was simply sarcasm.

    July 7, 2011 at 8:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Beadlesaz

      Obviously, some people do not have the mental capacity to grasp the concept of sarcasm.

      July 7, 2011 at 8:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cliff Vegas

      Some people do not have the brains enough (read "maturity) to know when humor of any kind is not appropriate.

      July 7, 2011 at 9:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • sarcasm police

      i don't.

      July 8, 2011 at 1:39 am | Report abuse |
  12. Mark

    I hope I live to 83. This kid is going to suffer enough knowing that he killed someone. I feel for the family of the lady but lets face it the kid is only 17 and saw this woman die and is the cause of it. This was a freak ACCIDENT leave the kid alone he will have to suffer the rest of his life with this. I know I would.

    July 7, 2011 at 8:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • someoneelse

      We need to make him SUFFER MORE! Our justice system is not so much about punishment anyway, it's about deterrent. I want other 17 year olds to know that if they DARE to go against society's rules, they will go to jail. This is why our justice system doesn't work and that no one has respect for it anymore.

      July 7, 2011 at 8:30 pm | Report abuse |
  13. fairy

    Grandma got ranover by a scateboard. Poor grandma. RIP

    July 7, 2011 at 8:28 pm | Report abuse |
  14. stix213

    15 to 20mph through a crosswalk sounds like a negligent level of speed. If the kid was an adult, I would think a negligent homicide or manslaughter charge could be appropriate. 17 year old kid though should get serious community service, be banned from even touching a skateboard for some time, and maybe spend a few months in the kids jail to think it all over.

    July 7, 2011 at 8:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Liz in CA

      I agree, some serious community service and some counseling. AND NO SKATEBOARDS for at least a year.

      July 7, 2011 at 8:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dee


      July 7, 2011 at 9:01 pm | Report abuse |
  15. BlueSin

    Hopefully they will keep this civil and not turn it into another finger pointing situation. I've come to realize in this world that people are obsessed with assigning blame. Society fails to realize that sometimes, s**t just happens and that's the way it is. Should the teen be charged with a crime? No, s**t happens and then somebody dies. Now get over it.

    July 7, 2011 at 8:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Seriously

      An earthquake or tornado or other so-called "Acts of God" are s**t happens situations. A person making a decision to ignore a well known law and someone dying as a direct result is not a s**t happens situation. OIbviously, the kid didn't have intent to harm the lady, that's why he couldn't be brought up on murder charges. He's just as responsible for this woman's death in this situation as someone who runs over and kills someone with their car because they were texting.

      July 7, 2011 at 8:50 pm | Report abuse |
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