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. Douglas

    I can't believe some of you guys are saying to lock this kid up. It was an accident. Like a post here by someone else, he has to live with it for the rest of his life. That is punishment enough for a young 17 year old KID who made an honest mistake.

    July 7, 2011 at 9:24 pm | Report abuse |
  2. amy

    Skateboarding is not a crime?!

    July 7, 2011 at 9:24 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Beefburger

    Why isn't there a comments section for EVERY story rather than those you cherry pick CNN? So many stories that the public should vent on and THIS is the type of thing that you choose?

    This story is sad, but it is nothing but troll bait for comments.

    July 7, 2011 at 9:26 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Beefburger

    Was there an ordinance against riding skateboards there? If so, then there needs to be charges, if not, then the story is done. So all of the trolls can go on to the next meaningless story that includes a comments section.

    July 7, 2011 at 9:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • sharky

      From the article

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

      July 7, 2011 at 9:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • scott

      Beefburger, How about actually reading the article before you mouth off? It would have taken you two minutes to read "municipal code prohibits skateboarding the Capitola Village commercial district where the accident occurred."

      July 7, 2011 at 9:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • SusaJ

      Didn't you read the article??? It said that there was a no skateboarding ordinance where the accident happened and he received a citation. However, since he stayed with the woman, there shouldn't be any charges; this wasn't "hit and run", if you will.

      July 7, 2011 at 9:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • onion addict

      his parents will get sued though.

      July 7, 2011 at 9:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cliff Vegas

      Beefburger... you're a shining example why CNN (and other news outlets) have to write short (read "simplistic") and easy to read stories. And even then, the lowest common denominator is not low enough for you, huh?

      July 7, 2011 at 9:46 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Thinking7

    Very sad. The fact that he stayed with her shows he cared. I am sorry she died, and am sorry he had this accident.

    July 7, 2011 at 9:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cliff Vegas

      Obviously not intentional... but skateboards and neighborhoods like this are not a good mix. That's why they have the ordinance. Prayers for this boy and the woman's husband.

      July 7, 2011 at 9:49 pm | Report abuse |
  6. happygirl1952

    It was an accident and the boy stayed with her, he didn't run away...he stayed with her and was there when the police came...kids make mistakes all the time....he wasn't thinking...I bet he skated down the hill lots of times before this. He never thought it could or would happen. I feel sorry for him and I feel great sorrow for her grieving husband.

    Bad things happen. This event will be life changing for him...give him a break.

    July 7, 2011 at 9:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • treatsobjectslikewomen

      I used to do this same type of thing (bombing hills) at his age skating, you realize you're 99% more likely to demolish yourself before another person when skating. Just the nature of the sport. This was just bad timing, mathematically losing the lottery for both people involved...the universe posting trollface.jpg on humanity. I bet this kid feels terrible, sick, freaking the eff out. Remember how emotion and psyche were so highly strung and hyper-aware at that age? She was blessed with a long life. His just got way more difficult. I imagine someone with her wisdom would tell the kid if she could from the hereafter, "don't carry this weight, it was an accident and I forgive you, who the hell could have foreseen that mess! Make sure you feed the cat and water the Petunias...and pull your pants up".

      July 7, 2011 at 9:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • JEff B

      As to the legalities:
      Since this was, presumably an infraction, the "misdemeanor-manslaughter rule" does not apply.
      If it was simple negligence, there would be no criminal prosecution.
      IF, however, the investigation reveals gross negligence , there could be some criminal liability (probably not, but I dont know enough at this point).
      As to civil action (wrongful death):
      In California, a parent is NOT liable for the negligent acts of their kids, but ARE liable for the intentional torts. The kid himself may be sued, and will go bankrupt. Assuming there is no gross recklessness found, it would be a dis-chargeable debt.

      July 7, 2011 at 10:02 pm | Report abuse |
  7. dk

    skateboarding is illegal here because it isn't safe. calling it an accident because it was unintentional is fine, but it was an act of negligence because he knew it was illegal and did it anyway. that makes it a crime.

    July 7, 2011 at 9:36 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Lori


    July 7, 2011 at 9:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • dk

      an act or the commission of an act that is forbidden or the omission of a duty that is commanded by a public law and that makes the offender liable to punishment by that law.

      July 7, 2011 at 9:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cliff Vegas

      I agree, but in this case it is a serious liability. This woman's husband no longer has his lifelong companion and this boy will probably not be happy after the courts get done with sorting out his culpability.

      July 7, 2011 at 9:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • JEff B

      DK and iff...
      see above.

      July 7, 2011 at 10:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joey

      How many people got run over by cars since this KID hit some old lady because a big truck was blocking the intersection? Why are you not calling for cars to be removed from roads? Because you drive a car. Oh yeah and lets throw the book at some kid just starting his life for a pure accident that ended a life most definitely on the down slope.

      July 7, 2011 at 10:10 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Burbank

    It sounds as though from that first accident in her late 60's with a skateboarder and her fear of them afterwards, that perhaps she had a premonition of how she woudl die. Very bizarre. I feel for both her and her family and the dumb kid, he will have to live with the guilt of accidentally killing someone.

    July 7, 2011 at 9:38 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Mork

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

    So if the kid had been a hippy he would have been at the mercy of Sgt Stadanko for sure!!

    July 7, 2011 at 9:42 pm | Report abuse |
  11. GoFaster58

    Being 17 years old and trying to avoid the collision doesn't excuse this boy from the responsibilities of causing the accident. Especially since it's against the law in that area.

    July 7, 2011 at 9:42 pm | Report abuse |
  12. duh

    jobl, you're a total moron.

    July 7, 2011 at 9:42 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Joe

    Unlike many motorists who hit and run, this young man stayed with the victim. He exercised poor judgement skateboarding on a public road, but he showed responsibility by not fleeing. It's ironic to me that this woman was struck 15 years ago. I've never known anyone or even heard of anyone being hit by a skateboarder. They are usually the victims.

    July 7, 2011 at 9:44 pm | Report abuse |
  14. splint

    In the United States, misdemeanor manslaughter is a lesser version of felony murder, and covers a person who causes the death of another while committing a misdemeanor – that is, a violation of law which doesn't rise to the level of a felony.

    Constructive manslaughter

    Constructive manslaughter is also referred to as ‘unlawful act’ manslaughter. It is based on the doctrine of constructive malice, whereby the malicious intent inherent in the commission of a crime is considered to apply to the consequences of that crime. It occurs when someone kills, without intent, in the course of committing an unlawful act. The malice involved in the crime is transferred to the killing, resulting in a charge of manslaughter.

    For example, a person who runs a red light in their vehicle and hits someone crossing the street could be found to intend or be reckless as to assault or criminal damage (see DPP v Newbury[12]). There is no intent to kill, and a resulting death would not be considered murder, but would be considered involuntary manslaughter. The accused's responsibility for causing death is constructed from the fault in committing what might have been a minor criminal act.

    There are three requirements for constructive manslaughter:

    * The defendant must do an unlawful act. This must be a criminal, not civil, offense[13] and must involve mens rea of intention or recklessness. Crimes involving negligence or omission will not suffice.[14]
    * The act must be dangerous. Whether the act is dangerous is objectively judged from the point of view of a sober and reasonable person present at the scene who witnessed the act.[15] The defendant need not be aware the act is dangerous[16] and the act need not be directed at the victim.[17]
    * The act must cause the death of the victim.

    for it to be manslaughter it would have to be constructive manslaughter since if anything it would be a misdemeanor and not a felony. and constructive manslaughter has 3 criteria to meet. one being that (The defendant must do an unlawful act. This must be a criminal, not civil, offense )

    now we all know that it is not against the law to ride a skateboard. if this town passed a town ordinance that states there is no skateboarding in the down town area this is not a criminal law. it is a town ordinance or a civil citation. so by definition of the law there was no criminal act that caused the death. the kid was guilty of violating a town ordinance that is at the most a civil citation.

    July 7, 2011 at 9:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • JEff B

      You obviously know a lot about the law...you might be an attorney, but you are obviously not in California.
      We dont have Constructive manslaughter here.
      Our Misdemeanor-manslaughter law here requires that the misdemeanor be "malum in Se'", not Malum Prohibitum.
      Also, per your "constructive manslaughter " post, you are right, the act must be intentional or reckless; this sounds like simple negligence, unless, as I stated above, the investigation uncovers something that is a bit "more"..so far, no facts to back that.
      You should also know that JUST because an act violates the Vehicle code, it could also violate the penal code; likewise, we dont know the city's municipal code – a skateboarding violation may well be a misdemeanor, not an infraction.
      Other than that...your analysis seems spot on.

      July 7, 2011 at 10:38 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Kent Bowen

    Nancy Grace is a clown...a joke...quickly becoming an irrelevant sidebar.

    BAN the NAN...

    July 7, 2011 at 9:45 pm | Report abuse |
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