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. ibrad

    You were never a kid? You never did anything bad,smoked,stole something,broke something,crashed into something? I guess it`s just great to be you! He stayed there until the police showed up. I think his parents did a fine job bringing up this young man to wait & help. I don`t know how many adults would have stayed there nevermind kids.

    July 7, 2011 at 9:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • GTA

      "You were never a kid? You never did anything bad,smoked,stole something,broke something,crashed into something?"

      Yes, I was a kid. But, I never engaged in behavior that risked the lives of others, much less killed someone.
      This kid should have foreseen potential consequences to his actions. Don't let him off just because he stayed with his victim.

      July 8, 2011 at 12:20 am | Report abuse |
    • Josh

      Driving a car puts you and everyone around you at risk.

      July 8, 2011 at 12:48 am | Report abuse |
    • Kaylee

      Well Said!

      July 8, 2011 at 8:50 am | Report abuse |
  2. okdokie

    Maybe that old hag shouldn't have gotten in the way. Skateboarding needs to be respected.

    July 7, 2011 at 9:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • runswithscissors

      Skateboarders need to learn to respect others first.

      July 7, 2011 at 10:11 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Aimee

    this question is to the people who say the kid should be charged; example I'm jaywalking I bump into the woman she falls down trips whatever dies are you saying I should be charged with a homicide?

    July 7, 2011 at 9:52 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Karen onCape Cod

    To all who do not comprehend; this "kid" should not have been skateboarding down a public road. What part of that do you not understand? He killed someone. What part of that do you not understand? Someones' mother ;grandmother; wife and friend is dead, what do you not understand? Skateboards are NOT legal on public streets. What part of that do you not understand?

    July 7, 2011 at 9:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Aimee

      So if it was a bike it would be ok since they can be ridden on the roadway?

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

      Yeah! Destroy not just one life but two. Vengeance is like a warm bath and a bottle of bubbly for knob-headed dunces. This was an accident, a statistical anomaly, this kind of thing rarely happens...ever. That 15 yr old BOY gets to carry that woman's death-guilt as an albatross around his neck for eternity. Not good enough for you carrion feeders? WTH is wrong with some of you?

      July 7, 2011 at 10:04 pm | Report abuse |
  5. The Dude

    He will get the chair, it's not like he killed a little girl in cold blood and dumped her body in the gutter, that we could forgive....

    July 7, 2011 at 9:55 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Karen onCape Cod

    To all who do not comprehend; this "kid" should not have been skateboarding down a public road. What part of that do you not understand? He killed someone. What part of that do you not understand? Someones' mother ;grandmother; wife and friend is dead, what do you not understand? Skateboards are NOT legal on public streets. What part of that do you not understand?

    July 7, 2011 at 9:57 pm | Report abuse |

      Huney, you need a xanax....bad......

      July 7, 2011 at 10:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • balzosteel

      Stay in Cape Cod, Karen. Yes, what this kid did was dangerous of sorts and not very well thought out in travelling at such a high speed on a skateboard, but I SERIOUSLY doubt he meant to harm anybody....let alone kill them.

      July 7, 2011 at 10:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave in Indy

      Tragic. But an accident. He shouldn't have been skateboarding there. The young man will have to live with this forever. That will be difficult enough. He showed character in not fleeing the scene. Sympathies to both parties.

      July 7, 2011 at 10:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dull, I guess

      Hold on, Karen on Cape Cod!!! Slow down for a minute because there is so much you just said that I don't understand! What's this about a skateboard? Why was the old woman riding a skateboard anyway? And why did they make it NOT legal for old women to ride skateboards? Isn't that age discrimination? Also, what if the public roads have some sweet jumps? Isn't that a loophole? I need answers, Karen on Cape Cod....

      July 7, 2011 at 10:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • HesAPastySkin

      He's a pasty skin, so like Casey Anthony and Johannes Meserhle, he'll get off scott free.

      July 7, 2011 at 10:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • dave

      They have all looked past the illegality of this and focused on the parts that say he was a minor, stayed with the victim, and the police opinion that he seemed like a nice clean cut kid. I had a kid put a dent in my car he flipped his skateboard into the air and lost control. I called the police and they chased him and his pack of skateboarding friends down. He brought them back, they denied it, the cop said it was my word against theirs, saying that there is probably no way I could prove it was the skateboard that caused the dent. Next time I see some kid doing something illegal I'm going to grab his board and discard it in a dumpster and if the cop says anything I'll just say it is my word against theirs.

      July 7, 2011 at 10:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Goddess Su

      Jeez, I understand what you're saying.....I GET IT. You've made your point, skateboards are not allowed in the area where the accident took place. We actually could figure that out from the article. However, teenagers often hang out, skateboard, bike, and other activities in areas where it is not really allowed. They are just teenagers (the majority of them) not miscreants and not delinquents. In this case, a tragic accident occurred. And it WAS an accident. The boy didn't mean to hurt anyone, he tried to avoid the collison, and he did the right thing by staying with the woman when he could have just as easily made a quick getaway. And now he has to live with that guilt for the rest of his life. I feel so sorry for the woman's family. But I also feel sorry for that poor boy who will have to live with what happened. And just as can happen with an ADULT driver (of a car) who has a collision that was caused by driver error and cause the loss of life, the boy was citated simply for the law he broke. It should not go farther than that.

      July 7, 2011 at 10:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • onion addict

      hey, hey: OJ got off too...

      July 7, 2011 at 10:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Karen not on Cape Cpd

      Accidents happen. Sure, he shouldn't be skateboarding there. Then again, she should have checked the road before crossing. It usually takes lack of situational awareness from two parties to bring about an accident.

      July 7, 2011 at 10:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jan

      Dave in Indy: An accident, yes, but verging on criminal negligence. Regardless of the type of negligence, he killed a person as a result of him engaging in an illegal activity banned from the area. He should be appropriately punished.

      July 7, 2011 at 10:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sad for both parties

      @HesAPastySkin: You mean he'll get away like OJ?

      July 7, 2011 at 10:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • dn

      You probably get this a lot, but you may wish to consider that condescending tone in light of your stupefyingly clueless post. California Vehicle Code 21967 leaves to each local authority to determine whether to prohibit or restrict skateboard use on public roadways. The Capitola Municipal Code (http://qcode.us/codes/capitola/) allows skateboards on Capitola's roadways, provided riders adhere to the provisions of Municipal Code section 12.52.030. You may note the CNN article indicates police are investigating the incident; i.e., they have not yet determined whether the boy violated the Municipal Code. It may appear, at least at first blush, that the boy did violate provisions of the ordinance, but as recent notorious trial developments would suggest, prosecutorial evidence isn't always as compelling in a courtroom as it appears to be in the media.

      July 7, 2011 at 10:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dan123

      Karen on Cape Cod – Sigh, I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt as a fellow New Englander, but skateboarding had absolutely NOTHING to do with it, other than the fact that the CNN editorial board seems to think (and sadly rightly so) that it will drive more hits to it's website. Sure she died in an accident. Sure she was somebody's husband, mother, lover, sister, etc. but if she had died at the hands of a driver of a car who was texting would it have been national news? I seriously doubt it. What's remarkable about this story is the kid stayed with the dying woman and accepted the consequences of his actions verses pulling a Casey Anthony. This however gets short shrift in the 3 second sound bites that define our national consciousness, and what we are left with is "Skateboarder kills old white lady, lynch him!"

      July 8, 2011 at 1:17 am | Report abuse |
    • HesAPastySkin

      OJ got away? Pasty skins are always slow on the uptake. Let me clear it up for you cystic fibrosis idiots...OJ is in jail right now pasty skins. He didn't get away with anything.

      July 8, 2011 at 3:42 am | Report abuse |

    R.I.P. Sorry for the family of the lady. Am looking at all of these posts and wondering if any of them were ever kids..... Yes, I understand the kid wasn't supposed to be skateboarding.....but at least he stayed with the lady, he didn't run away..... Seems to me to be a tragic scenario......

    July 7, 2011 at 10:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gail

      To all those saying he's just a kid, he didn't mean to, at least he stayed with her... I bet you would be changing your mind if it was a drunk driver that hit her... Laws are made for a reason, this "kid" broke it knowingly and should be charged with manslaughter same as a drunk driver would be charged... plain and simple, and this so called kid was 17, he's almost a legal adult and should know better. That's the problem with kids today, they are let off the hook too easy...

      July 7, 2011 at 10:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave in Indy

      If only we ALL were as compliant/obedient as Gail, this would be a perfect world.

      July 7, 2011 at 10:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Alex

      Gail: Yes, we probably would be changing our tune if it was a drunk driver, but skateboarding is not drunk driving. Even during the height of skateboarding's popularity, the odds of being fatally hit by a skateboarder would be similar to surviving a free-fall from an airplane. Drunk drivers, on the other hand, kill a lot of people each year. Evidence for the comparitive likelihood of each case is that drunk drivers killing persons does not make the front page of CNN. I understand the kid was breaking a civil code. I understand he was being reckless, but to equivocate riding a skateboard in an illegal place to drunk driving is thoughtless. Yes, in this case he killed her just like some drunk driver would have as well, but I think if you look in your mind and heart, you'll come to the conclusion that there is a strong moral difference between riding your skateboard in prohibited areas and operating a motor vehicle while drunk, but what do I know?

      July 7, 2011 at 10:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jan

      You again Dave? Now your mocking someone who thinks this kid should be punished for KILLING someone. Your mom must be do proud. Come to think of it, what if it was YOUR mom this kid killed?

      July 7, 2011 at 10:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Goddess Su

      Comparing this boy's actions to those of a drunk driver is stupid and it's not an accurate analogy. And the drunk driver might not be charged with manslaughter. He might only be charged with drunk driving. If the person who died did not contribute to the accident whatsoever, perhaps the drunk driver would be charged. But if the other person were negligent at all, the drunk driver would most likely only be charged with drunk driving. And as the case with this boy, most likely the woman did not look both ways adequately before crossing the street. So it's possible that she was in some way negligent in the accident as well. It's horrible that she died. But I think it's just as horrible that this boy has to live with what happened for the rest of his life.

      July 7, 2011 at 10:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • GnatB

      I'd be changing my tune if he was a drunk driver who DIDN'T kill anybody. With drunk driving, there is a known expectation that you are putting peoples lives in danger. There are serious penalties as a result of this.

      With skateboarding, there isn't any such expectation. How many people have ever been killed in a collision with a skateboarder?. And as far as I'm aware, said expectation of danger is a requirement for any sort of manslaughter charge.

      July 7, 2011 at 10:46 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Fooglmog

    I'd support locking up and giving a record to skateboarders who ride where they shouldn't. But only the day after we pass laws locking up drivers who speed or run red lights and stop signs.

    July 7, 2011 at 10:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • EuphoricCrest

      @ Foo: If either of your instances results in a death, then the guilty party should be imprisoned.

      July 8, 2011 at 12:04 am | Report abuse |
    • Alex

      Ummm. News flash, for ya. If you are caught speeding, or running a red light or stop sign and you KILL someone as a result, you DO get locked up. This kid broke the law and the only one I feel sorry for is the woman who died as a result of his total lack of respect for it. Capitola's got some seriously steep and curvy streets. Even if he was doing 20 miles an hour, combine this with his body weight and you get some serious impact (mass+motion= dead lady). It's simple physics.

      July 8, 2011 at 12:11 am | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      News Flash: Umm... no, no you don't. You get cited for whatever traffic violation you broke.

      That's why they refer to them as "accidents" not "homicides"

      July 12, 2011 at 10:52 am | Report abuse |
    • Stephanie

      On the money!!!

      July 8, 2011 at 10:00 am | Report abuse |
    • Jay

      NEWS FLASH that already happens a lot of skaters get locked up for a few hours in jail fro skating where they shouldn't. Maybe you should do some Googling before you make an assumption

      July 8, 2011 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Derweissengel

    Hey geez: Bite me!

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

    When they say 'Skate or Die', why would one choose to die?

    July 7, 2011 at 10:10 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Captain Obvious

    "skateboarders constantly ride where it is illegal to do so. Lock 'em up and give them a record that will FOREVER tell everyone they are TRASH PUNKS."

    says Tony Hawk's butler...

    July 7, 2011 at 10:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tnt

      Shut up haters

      October 28, 2011 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Wow.

    Everyone is having a flame war even though someone died.

    None of you were there, whether this justifies for you that skateboarding is a crime or not. The fact remains someone died and the kid has to live with that.

    I don't think I want to live on this planet anymore.

    July 7, 2011 at 10:11 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Lady newd

    "It was not a malicious type of act. He seemed like a pretty clean-cut and honest kid." Thank God he didn't have long hair and need a bath?

    July 7, 2011 at 10:12 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Bob Jones

    Skateboarding is illegal everywhere it seems like. You don’t read stuff like this when a old man or lady is hit by a bike and dies. I've been skateboarding for 29 years of my life (I'm 36 and been in the govt IT field for the last 13 years) I’ve used my skateboard as a way to get around for short distance and for fun, but cops always bug you. This is just the media again putting the spot light on an misunderstood way of life and transportation..

    July 7, 2011 at 10:14 pm | Report abuse |
  15. teenager

    You guys are being compeltely insensitive. The woman, who just happened to be in the road, happened to die, etc. At least lived for 83 years. The kid is gonna have to live at leas that long knowing he accidentally killed an old lady. I hate your generation because you assume mine is so blatantly disrespectful and stupid. We're smarter than you, FYI

    July 7, 2011 at 10:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gail

      To teenager, your post just shows you are NOT as smart as my generation.

      July 7, 2011 at 10:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tharon

      Ok, lets flip that and let this be your mother/grandmother/aunt..whatever. You mean to tell me you're not going to see to it that he pays for this accident/crime......I dare you to actually think about this and what you would do in this situation. If you're going to let him off the hook (if this happened to you) then I don't what to say other than you are a rare one.....rare what is up for debate

      July 7, 2011 at 10:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • GnatB

      He did pay for his accident/crime. He got cited for violating the only law he broke. What else would they charge him with, Manslaughter? That requires expectation of causing danger/bodily harm. I've never heard of anybody ever being killed (or even seriously injured) by a skateboarder before, (other than the skateboarder) so that kinda nullifies that aspect, no?

      Now sure, I expect her husband could try to sue him/his family for wrongful death, but I doubt he'd get all that much money from a 17year old.

      July 7, 2011 at 10:58 pm | Report abuse |
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