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. james

    yay one less close-minded, grumpy, kid-hating, fun-avoiding, money-draining, life-hating codger gone. the sooner u old ppl are gone the better this world will be. we need more skaterboarding.

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

    Crash and burn!!!!High speed ederly wobbles

    July 8, 2011 at 8:33 am | Report abuse |
  3. Maverick

    The point that seems to be missed was the boarder was breaking the law by skating in the area where law prohibits it. It may have been an accident but negligence is negligence. "He seemed like a pretty clean-cut and honest kid." Perhaps, but he broke the law and it resulted in a death. He should be punished for vehicular manslaughter just as sure as if he were in a car.

    And before you "shredders" start railing me give me just ONE justification to defend boarders when they do injure a bystander. In doing so you are saying it's the bystander's fault.

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

      take the stick out of your a$$, Maverick.

      Oooooh what a terrible law to break and in the summer too when he was just trying to enjoy being a kid. God forbid any kid of yours ever do anything remotely outside of a silly law. God forbid you have kids.

      July 8, 2011 at 8:48 am | Report abuse |
  4. Anna

    Clearly it was an accident. The kid obviously didn't do it on purpose, he stayed with her until medics arrived. I don't think punishment is necassary considering he will be living with this incident for the rest of his life... punishment enough.

    July 8, 2011 at 8:37 am | Report abuse |
  5. tlh1861

    I think that every person who has "sounded off" on this article who has been against the kid, who made a mistake, is ridiculous, and probably never went to college, maybe community college, where students don't have a campus to ride bikes, skateboards, and skate. If you did go to college, you'd understand that not every kid can even afford another means of transprotation. It is also ridiculous for people to make comments about "kids these days" because every generation, the blue-haired, old, agitated citizens have claimed that the current generation of kids is "irresponsible", "rotten", or any other adjective that is a complete generalization...get over yourselves.

    July 8, 2011 at 8:39 am | Report abuse |
  6. Realist

    This is a tragedy on both sides. The elderly lady lost her life, and the teenager has to live with the guilt of knowing that he took a life. Very sad.

    July 8, 2011 at 8:42 am | Report abuse |
    • Quincey9

      Well said. Condolences all around.

      July 8, 2011 at 9:22 am | Report abuse |
    • hemiola

      A larger tragedy would be that no one would learn from it; if you injure someone else, you're responsible. It's not the seventeen year old in particular, but the whole skateboarding community in Santa Cruz/Capitola that take notice. If a teenager hit me at 25 mph on a skateboard, his loss of his board will be the least of his problems; civil suits against him, the manufacturer, and his parents would be filed and pursed until I felt justice was served.

      July 8, 2011 at 12:10 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Willie12345

    Punishing the boy harshly will not accomplish anything and may make things worse. The boy will have terrible memories of this. A professional person needs to get involved to helping all parties and providing a reasonable remedy to this situation.

    July 8, 2011 at 8:42 am | Report abuse |
    • Basil999

      yousuck...no reason for sarcasm. Uncalled for.

      July 8, 2011 at 9:08 am | Report abuse |
    • WardHorkin

      Haha! it's ok, I think it was very called for.

      July 8, 2011 at 9:12 am | Report abuse |
    • Flatsguide

      A professional cell guard is the only professional this boy needs.

      July 8, 2011 at 9:29 am | Report abuse |
    • Curious

      If it was a car that hit her, then it would have been vehicular manslaughter. The kid was skate boarding illegally on this strip and hit her in a cross walk. There should be some sort of punishment, other than a fine.

      July 8, 2011 at 9:45 am | Report abuse |
    • Bubba

      He stopped to help her, so unlikely that he will be charged. The cops will do an accident report, and he may face a civil suit to cover the cost of her death. This will follow him around forever.

      July 8, 2011 at 11:29 am | Report abuse |
  8. Shamrock6

    Duuuuude. Riiiighteous post bro.

    July 8, 2011 at 8:50 am | Report abuse |
  9. Ted


    July 8, 2011 at 8:50 am | Report abuse |
  10. mk241

    im sorry, 70 YEARS skateboard has been around and nothng "malicious" like this has occurred.

    at least he wasnt texting and driving like 90% of americans who have a cell phone. hmmm which is worse... a skatebaorder whose speed is controlled, down a hill, by gravity. while you drive these metal, 2000+ lb, gas hauling vehicles in excess of 70 mph and TEXT while doing so. and NO BODY can deny doing it, if you have a cell phone, you have done it. im guilty as well.

    BUT of course, a "punk" skateboarder is the root of all evil. I have skateboarded for 10+ years, dont listen to punk music, dont wear skinny jeans and tank tops, dont have a criminal record, so get those stereotypes out of your ignorant minds. I just graduated with a degree in civil engineering from one of the top 10 colleges in engineering. So if im still classified as some "punk wood pusher" then so be it. because i probably started my entry level position making more than the old white collared grumps who are blabbing about "skateboarding is a crime"

    July 8, 2011 at 8:53 am | Report abuse |
    • calvin

      How do you control speed on a skateboard going down a hill? They don't have breaks do they?

      July 8, 2011 at 9:09 am | Report abuse |
    • jimbo

      you obviously have some anger over something...i'm guessing you've been punked more than once while tricking around town?

      July 8, 2011 at 9:09 am | Report abuse |
    • mk241

      almighty god has provided us with these immaculate devices called FEET. how do u stop walking? you put your foot down, who'd thunk?

      July 8, 2011 at 9:29 am | Report abuse |
    • mk241

      nah just worthless low lifes who have nothing better to do with their lives then pester kids and get them in trouble. really? murder? at most manslaughter. but mine as well put our amazing judicial system to work and fill up our penitentiaries with "little punks" who are active and not sitting on their butt playing video games all day. but then again you have a problem with those kids too because video games cause violence.
      what can teens do nowadays that they arent considered "little punks"?

      July 8, 2011 at 9:41 am | Report abuse |
    • caw

      Obviously his FEET brakes seemed to have failed him. When I am walking I don't travel at 20mph with too much momentum to stop.

      July 8, 2011 at 10:05 am | Report abuse |
    • scruffy

      well said. i agree about texting/talking while driving...it is a selfish pandemic.

      i love how a lot of people are quick to point fingers - he was skateboarding. let the kid go. he was involved in a terrible accident that ended tragically and will be scarred for life. my heart goes out to both victims.

      if this were my grandmother, i would ask law enforcement to let it go. he could never, in a million years, guess this was going to happen.

      very sad all around. i feel terrible for the lady and her family.

      July 8, 2011 at 10:54 am | Report abuse |
  11. mk241

    i assume you were the on like "Smalls" in the Sandlot. playing with your Erector Set while everyone was outside

    July 8, 2011 at 8:57 am | Report abuse |
  12. bdgfn

    This is a sad story, indeed. And I'm sure there are some who will use it to continue bashing skateboarders. From the story, the kid did everything he could to avoid hitting this woman. I commend this young man. He will be forever haunted by what occurred.

    July 8, 2011 at 9:01 am | Report abuse |
    • Ray

      He did everything he could do except for not illegally riding down that hill.

      That's like saying a drunk driver did everything they could do to avoid hitting that pedestrian except driving drunk.

      July 8, 2011 at 10:53 am | Report abuse |
  13. Admin


    July 8, 2011 at 9:01 am | Report abuse |
  14. tomas

    charge the kid with involuntary manslaughter, give him his 8-15 years and move on. When you take someones life and you are a fault in anyway shape or form you should face charges. I dont care if the kid was "clean cut" or "honest" or the act wasnt "malicious" the result was still the same. What about the victim? She seemed pretty clean-cut and honest too, and she is dead.

    July 8, 2011 at 9:05 am | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      Seriously? You've never heard of accidents? This kid was not trying to bother this woman, but simply skateboarding. He could have been jogging, running, playing baseball...would he need to go to jail if a foul ball he hit killed her? I think not. I think he will suffer enough without involving the courts. I'm sure you'd agree if you accidentally caused death or injury to someone.

      July 8, 2011 at 9:43 am | Report abuse |
    • Stephanie

      Tomas you are a moron. This was an unfortunate incident where a teen has learned a very hard lesson about why rules are what they are. Both sides will suffer and the young man will continue to feel guilty for the rest of his life. He will pay for this. Kids will be kids, and kids do not have the patent on doing stupid stuff. Look at a lot of grownups today who never seemed to have grown up and who do stupid stuff and are just lucky because they don't wind up hurting someone else.

      The young man could have let panic overrule his judgement and just left her lying there, but he didn't. He stayed with her and that, in my mind, counts for a lot. He should be punished for the violation of skateboard rule, but not sent to jail or prison. I would make him do community service.

      July 8, 2011 at 9:59 am | Report abuse |
    • caw

      An accident is when you're obeying the law and something happens. There was a reason skateboarding is prohibited there. Do I really think the kid needs 8+ years, no. But he should be charged and he should have at least probation to deal with. He was breaking the law and DID cause the death of a woman because of it.

      July 8, 2011 at 10:07 am | Report abuse |
    • Mac

      Thomas-if you knew this family like I do–George would not want the young man punished by doing time–George has already forgiven him–I have known this family for 20 years–George knows his wife would not want her memory to be tainted with this young person going to jail over this–the young man has to live with this the rest of his life–PUNISHMENT ENOUGH in my book.

      July 8, 2011 at 10:21 am | Report abuse |
    • chris

      she was old. she was gonna die anyway. get over it.

      July 8, 2011 at 10:37 am | Report abuse |
    • scruffy

      c'mon, tomas. it was an accident. he has to live with the horrors of what happened from this day on.

      it was, i repeat, an accident. let him be. it was tragic all around. my god, what is wrong with people anymore? don't charge him with anything. he was just riding his skateboard (and i don't care if you're not supposed to ride your skateboard there...really). let him go.

      July 8, 2011 at 10:58 am | Report abuse |
    • Bubba

      There are laws, and you don't get to vote on what happens to people. There will be an accident report, and the DA will decide what charges to file. Likely he'll get some breaks for stopping, but he was in a no board zone and a woman is dead.

      July 8, 2011 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
  15. Basil999

    Young James....*sigh*....beware what you say. You will be there someday. I guarantee.

    July 8, 2011 at 9:14 am | Report abuse |
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