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. Kookmyer

    Dude she was 83! How much longer was she really gonna live anyway?

    July 8, 2011 at 2:10 am | Report abuse |
    • Age

      103? 123? Been known to happen. But a stupid skateboarder robbed her of even more more day of life.

      July 8, 2011 at 3:46 am | Report abuse |
    • Julia

      Children with your mentality infuriate me to no end!!! Little mindless brats who have this foolish notion they are going to live forever and old people are just in their way! What about YOUR grandparents? Would you feel any differently if they were to read what you wrote? Dear God, I can't imagine my grandson ever saying something so mean and hateful! It's really too bad you don't have parents looking over your shoulder while you're on the computer. You are obviously too young and immature to use one.

      July 8, 2011 at 10:06 am | Report abuse |
  2. likleyenough

    From cars that fail to completely stop, or yield, intoxicated drivers, stray animals, litter, crosswalk signs that do not function properly, people who do not follow simple crosswalk laws or use them all can cause a potentially lethal problem. It's not about age, disadvantage or advantage. It's not hard to make yourself follow laws and if it is too troublesome for you to follow directions and laws with a form of transportation, don't use it and instead get instruction .

    July 8, 2011 at 2:27 am | Report abuse |
    • Crossing

      I'm pretty sure this lady knew how to get across the street. After all, she had to dodge skateboarders for years. Even got hit by another one previously. She had her radar on, just didn't see this moron coming.

      July 8, 2011 at 3:48 am | Report abuse |
  3. darkguardian1314

    The codes and laws may prohibit it but this is happens everyday. Skateboarders riding in areas clearly signed as prohibited. Not cop; no stop mentality. Unless you have a uniform and a badge if you try to say anything about it they try to gang up on you as if you're the one that needs to leave. Tony Hawk skateboard video games don't help because it doesn't show how to skate responsibly. They had skateboard parks built at city expense but prefer to skate in the urban environment.

    July 8, 2011 at 2:33 am | Report abuse |
  4. Grandmother

    How is this skateboarder any different than the cyclists (bicyclists) that are running people over? If you are on wheels of any sort you should be held accountable for any hurt or trauma you cause to others.

    July 8, 2011 at 2:34 am | Report abuse |
    • Julia

      There isn't any difference. Did someone say there was?

      July 8, 2011 at 10:08 am | Report abuse |
  5. WhyNotComment

    I really can't believe some of the comments on here. Try him for murder? Are you serious? First of all it's not murder even if you did try him. I don't expect people to know about criminal law (much of it) has to do with intent. Law aside, this is a 17 year old. Most juries, and rationale people, would agree he did not set out to kill this woman. He may have broken the law but it was not with the intent to kill someone. Reckless maybe, and that's a stretch. And please don't liken this to a DWI because that is not the same in term of recklessness, impaired judgement etc.. And no, if this were my relatives – in this exact situation – I would not be saying differently. In short, he is a kid who made a mistake and will have to live with this. He stayed with the woman unlike most adults in DWIs do! This is so sad and you idiots want to send him to prison for years. I can't fathom it.

    July 8, 2011 at 2:35 am | Report abuse |
    • Trip

      She was older than dirt! let it go! This young man has his whole life in front of him.

      July 8, 2011 at 2:39 am | Report abuse |
    • kou27

      Problem with your statement is that there are thousands of car accidents a year. People are charged guilty of murder [drunk or not] for killing people in car accidents whether or not they were out to kill that person. This is the same thing. He didn't mean to do it, but it still happened. He'll probably get 5-10 years if charged and will probably be out in 2-3 with good behavior, not a big deal. This is why that area forbade skateboarders to begin with....if he followed the law he wouldn't be in this mess.

      July 8, 2011 at 3:23 am | Report abuse |
    • A tragedy...


      July 8, 2011 at 3:28 am | Report abuse |
    • John

      Thank you for your words of wisdom and insight. I feel the way you do. This was just an accident. Accidents happen and nobody, absolutly nobody can know what action you do will cause an accident. The ones making harsh statements about what should be done need to think. You are not perfect, You cannot stop some accidents. When an accident happens to you, would you wish we all cast you to the hounds and say you should have stopped at the greenlight rather than striking and killing the girl and her mother who ran the red light? because the way the world is going and the way the blogging haters talk, it will get to that.

      July 8, 2011 at 3:38 am | Report abuse |
    • Charlie

      Trip – so since you are dumber than dirt you deserve to die – here' s hoping

      July 8, 2011 at 4:03 am | Report abuse |
    • railslide

      negligent homicide- manslaughter; i could make it stick.

      July 8, 2011 at 4:09 am | Report abuse |
    • bill


      you are a complete j e r k o ff. What an a s s inine comment. You should be ashamed of yourself

      July 8, 2011 at 4:38 am | Report abuse |
    • Havoth

      Wow – I have to agree with WhyNotComment...and to KOU27 – "it's no big deal" to do time? To ruin a kids future with a felony conviction for an ACCIDENT??? The problem with our society is the criminalization of every thing. US has more people in jail than anywhere else except China and they have 3.5 times the population..

      July 8, 2011 at 4:44 am | Report abuse |
    • rob

      Older than dirt, Trip? You are dirt.

      July 8, 2011 at 4:46 am | Report abuse |
    • rob

      Skateboards on public sidewalks are the problem, not this kid. I saw an accident that ended in head trauma a few years ago. It happened right in front of me, in fact, it could have easily been me. That kid stood over the dazed guy laying on the ground yelling at him as though he shouldn't have been walking on the sidewalk!! Ban skateboards from public sidewalks and business areas. They are toys. And dangerous ones at that.

      July 8, 2011 at 4:50 am | Report abuse |
    • rob

      John, accidents do happen. But the person at fault is held accountable. Accident doesn't mean freebie. It means that it wasn't intended. But liability and responsibility remains even for accidents. Young people don't get it.

      July 8, 2011 at 5:01 am | Report abuse |
    • Julia

      Involuntary manslaughter is most likely what he'd be charged with, IF they decide to charge him. The words are very clear: involuntary = he had no intentions of causing anyone harm, let alone death, but as a direct result of his carelessness and disobeying established laws he did in fact take a life.
      @ Trip, the little cretin who seems to think only the young have the right to live. I have to agree with the assessment that you are Dumber Than Dirt. So maybe you shouldn't have the right to live? You are too pathetic for words.

      July 8, 2011 at 10:17 am | Report abuse |
  6. LeGrisbi

    America is in dire need of skateboard control.

    July 8, 2011 at 2:35 am | Report abuse |
    • guesswhat

      you cant

      July 8, 2011 at 3:55 am | Report abuse |
  7. ben

    Just curious...if it was a bicyclist, would you feel the same way??? Would it even have made CNN's headlines??? Probably not. It's just easier to make a sensational headline when you add "skateboarder" to the byline. As a 30+ year veteran of the sport and former professional skateboarder, I can say that skateboarding constantly gets a bad rap...even when it isn't warranted.

    Skateboarding is as much a sport, as it is a mode of transportation...like it or not. This sort of anomaly is a terrible accident, with no malice or intent. If there was a way this kid could have stopped in time, I am certain he would have.

    I feel for the family of the woman who was killed. It is not what you would ever expect to happen. As this was an apparent accident, I feel for the young man who will be haunted by this for the rest of his life. This is a terrible cross to bear for all surviving parties involved. Very sad.

    July 8, 2011 at 2:45 am | Report abuse |
  8. hawaiiduude

    skate tuff or go home.

    July 8, 2011 at 2:55 am | Report abuse |
  9. VanceVigorous

    Not leery enough, it seems.

    In all reality, though, this is an issue solely because of the stigmatization of skateboarding. She could just have easily been hit by a bicycle and died, and this wouldn't even qualify as news.

    All that said though, why not crucify this kid? It's not like it was an unfortunate accident. He was in violation of a minor municipal code, and should therefore be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Furthermore, to prevent this from happening any further, we should outlaw skateboarding everywhere, as it is far more dangerous when practiced by teenagers than almost any other activity. While we're at it, why not horseback riding, swimming, driving, hunting, gymnastics, football, martial arts, cycling, ice skating, or anything else a teenager might enjoy doing.

    July 8, 2011 at 3:16 am | Report abuse |
    • A tragedy...

      play along...close your eyes. Now, imagine you get a call that your 17 yr old son just killed someone while skateboarding. He tried to avoid the collision and stayed with the victim until help arrived. A real sad tragedy for both parties. I'd ask the victim's husband how she would respond, prosecute to the full extent of the law or let the young man try and rebuild his life knowing he killed someone. Even if the young boy doesn't go to jail or his parents lose everything, he'll live his whole life feeling regret and guilt. which can lead to suicide or drug addiction. I'm not discounting the 83 yr lady but she lived a full life and this young boy will live with the consequences for the rest of his.

      July 8, 2011 at 3:39 am | Report abuse |
    • Nell

      Ok, tragedy, try arguing that point with her poor husband of 64 years, They met in junior high and have been together ever since. Just explaint to him that her life was over anyway, and it no one needs to pay for her death. I'm sure he'll agree wtih you. This was an accident but the young man will and should have to be prosecuted at least for manslaughter. And if he had been riding a bike instead, I can assure you we'd still be hearing about it.

      July 8, 2011 at 3:46 am | Report abuse |
    • rob

      A tragedy, now you just imagine you get a call that your 17 year old killed a pedestrian on the sidewalk while driving his car, accidentally. You think it would just be wiped away without consequences. A woman is dead you bafoon. DEAD.

      July 8, 2011 at 4:54 am | Report abuse |
    • vrocks

      By 80 you have a enough wisdom to know the boy is more important. Shocking, but true.

      July 8, 2011 at 4:54 am | Report abuse |
    • rob

      vrocks, you have rocks in your head. Where do you come up with that. A persons life is theirs to lead, and no one is privileged to choose otherwise. Lest some deem you 'unnecessary'. Exactly what is it that you do to deserve your place in the world? Nothing, I'd bet.

      July 8, 2011 at 5:06 am | Report abuse |
  10. Jakey

    Are you a New Yorker with a bicycle? Do you constantly ignore that you're considered a vehicle and shouldn't be running red lights or riding on the sidewalk? Do you often zoom through crosswalks full of people because you totally see a space? PAY HEED TO THIS ARTICLE.

    And besides the extreme danger you're obnoxious anyway.

    July 8, 2011 at 3:22 am | Report abuse |
  11. Some Random Dude

    I could never figure out why people hate skateboarders so much. I think it's kind of cool.

    July 8, 2011 at 3:35 am | Report abuse |
  12. L.

    I don't think this kid deserves jail time, really, it's not like he set out that day to kill somebody. But he does deserve to live with this for the rest of his life, which is what will happen. Hopefully it'll change him into an even better person (I mean, he stayed with her, how many people actually would do that, especially a teen?). God rest her soul.

    July 8, 2011 at 3:50 am | Report abuse |
  13. A tragedy...

    plz play along...close your eyes. Now, imagine you get a call that your 17 yr old son just killed someone while skateboarding. He tried to avoid the collision and stayed with the victim until help arrived. A real sad tragedy for both parties. I'd ask the victim's husband how'd she respond; prosecute to the full extent of the law or let the young man try and rebuild his life knowing he accidently killed someone. Even if the young boy doesn't go to jail and/or his parents lose everything, he'll live his whole life feeling regret and guilt. Of which can lead to suicide or drug addiction. I'm not discounting the 83yr old lady who died but she lived a full life. This young boy will live with the consequences for the rest of his life. And maybe he'll make a positive difference for skateboarding.

    July 8, 2011 at 3:50 am | Report abuse |
    • Km

      Well said.

      July 8, 2011 at 4:21 am | Report abuse |
    • eg


      July 8, 2011 at 4:32 am | Report abuse |
    • rob

      An healthy 83 year old doesn't want to die anymore than a healthy 17 year old. Get a grip, you must be a young. If you make it to 83 years old, you will understand. Dead is dead. Do you even understand what death is before you just write people's life off as though they don't matter?

      July 8, 2011 at 4:58 am | Report abuse |
  14. Justcurious

    I bet you the 17yo kid was white. If it had been a blk kid they'd be in jail already awaiting trial or something. My heart goes out to the old lady's family and I pray for the much needed comfort at this time of great need and pain.

    July 8, 2011 at 4:08 am | Report abuse |
  15. warrioricp1

    it was her daily routine to try to avoid or get hit by a skateboard? kidding. i guess some more warning of a matter is in need to be involved. most skateboarders act too bad and ignorant anyway and blame most society. we all gotta watch out, out there. sorry for whom was involved.

    July 8, 2011 at 4:14 am | Report abuse |
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