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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soundoff (1,053 Responses)

    This is truly a tragic incident. A woman lost her life and a young man will carry the burden of his guilt for his lifetime.

    Skateboarding is now a recognized sport and many fine young people are involved. These are not criminals folks, they are good kids.

    Bicycles probably are responsible for far more deaths than skateboards.

    Condolences to the family of the victim.

    July 8, 2011 at 11:04 am | Report abuse |
  2. Laura Bush

    Laura Bush killed a man in 1963. She ran a stop sign in an act of negligence.

    July 8, 2011 at 11:38 am | Report abuse |
  3. The Giver

    Hemiola you are what is wrong with modern american society you want to sue the minor, the manufacturer and his parents for this? What justice would be solved here, the only justice would be you turning a tragedy into profit for yourself. The only thing to take away from this is that accidents happen, I feel terrible for the deceased as well as the teenager responsible. However, the fact of the matter is that people die from accidents everyday, the difference here is that people do not understand skateboarding and find it easy to vilify this kid because of it. Times are a changin and baseball is not the norm for kids anyone, so you better start accepting that skateboarding is not going anywhere. Also, please do not sue anyone, all you are doing when you do that is turning a negative into an even more negative by introducing money into the equation, you make me sick.

    July 8, 2011 at 12:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • William

      The kid broke the law (Booth said municipal code prohibits skateboarding the Capitola Village commercial district where the accident occurred and the teen was cited for a violation.) and killed someone. It really is that simple. His punishment should be the same as that for any other murder, or at least manslaughter. "But he's only a kid" is a null argument and is meant only to appeal to the emotions.

      July 8, 2011 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Matthew

      @William I think that is a little harsh... Riding a skateboard down a hill is no different than riding a bike down a hill. It was an accident not a crime. When I see signs for "no skateboarding" it generally is pointed at -Hey don't grind on my marble ledges or jump down my stair sets- skateboards are just as much of a mode of transportation as a bicycle...

      July 8, 2011 at 5:40 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Admin


    July 8, 2011 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Jeremy

    It's just an accident like any other if a car would have hit the lady there would have been no article posted. My condolences to the family and the skateboarder.

    July 8, 2011 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jodey

    The kid's obviously not that skilled a skateboarder. He should leave the boarding to people who can actually control the board. Because he behaved beyond his skill level while going too fast, a woman is now dead and her husband is a widower. TRAGIC. What he did was negligent and is manslaughter.

    July 8, 2011 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
  7. readthestory

    All of you defending the kid seem to forget that skateboarding was not allowed where the accident happened AND she was in a crosswalk. I don't think the kid should go to prison, but punishment needs to happen. How would you skaters like it if I drove my car onto your skate park and killed one of you?

    July 8, 2011 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • mat

      yea a car in in a skatepark


      July 9, 2011 at 12:09 am | Report abuse |
    • no name

      To bad news reporters don't actually study the facts and give accurate reports of events. I guess they don't because you wouldn't read and comment, unless everything was "sensationalized"....think about that before you post.

      I feel for every family member who is involved in this accident....may God bless you, and may peace be with everyone, from the boy who ran into you, to the husband, parents, grandparents, sister, brother, and grandchildren on each side. Peace and love to all. I

      July 16, 2011 at 2:12 am | Report abuse |
  8. Nick Naranja

    How many old ladies are mowed down by bicycles or rollerbladers. I'm guessing that the kid didn't see this coming and skateboards don't stop on a dime. I used to bomb a hill every day on my way back from class in college and if someone would have stepped out in front of me, I would have hit them like a freight train.

    July 8, 2011 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
  9. scribbles

    so many retarded, assumption filled comments.

    July 8, 2011 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
  10. She

    Read the article... It was her path to follow. It was also the kids. To say that skateboarders shouldn't skate there. Ok, lesson learned. It's outlandish saying all skateboarders are punks. Untrue. It's a wonderful accepting culture. So toss that out the window. As for the 17 year old... Accidents happen. It's not called an on purpose. He didn't maliciously seek this lady out who seemed to have a decent life. Hopefully she ended it on the good note. Maybe the kid will get married someday.

    July 8, 2011 at 5:47 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Watch your self

    I am a skateboarder and I am really upset that this poor lady had to lose her life. I like ripping down hills just as much as the next skater but seriously we have to watch ourselves, because even though most of the idiots posting here and just making themselves look stupid, its true that the average skateboarder can't control himself trying to stop especially in a snap situation involving a pedestrian and you don't have many options but to carve around to gain control. This just gives people another reason to point hate at skateboards and not the people using them. The kid should have ditched himself face first to the pavement before he even touched the poor old lady. Now the skateboard world is tarnished with blood again and people will continue to glare at me when I am cruising along IN CONTROL. The kid who hit this poor lady has to live with it for the rest of his life... that is going to rot him apart, some of the stuff you guys are saying on here is only going to bring yourself a short life.

    July 8, 2011 at 6:09 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Watch your self

    Hate the person not the board. There are many of us who know how to control a skateboard, and many who just sit and home and criticize everything that happens in the world. Accidents happen, and this kid has to live with his actions. If you guys aren't going to make any sense about it and just criticize, well you might as well just pick a new story to complain about all day because you won't ever get anywhere here. I just know that if I had a second to throw myself face first to the concrete I would do it to try and avoid colliding with an elderly woman. If he ran a stop sign, he is stupid, but this was an accident and most of you are just upset because this could have been your grandma. Let's take cars off the streets and keep bikes indoors, ban guns, running, and walking in public, rap music, cheezies, pitbulls, iguanas. I mean come on, skateboards have been around way longer than any of you people commenting. Nothing is going to change.

    July 8, 2011 at 6:37 pm | Report abuse |
  13. bill

    I have been skating for 27 years. When I see a young longboarder, I often interpret their position in the skateworld spectrum of skater types as an inexperienced skater with a few shallow skills parading as a laidback skater with no worries. This kid obviously did not have the gonads and instinct to ditch the board and eat the pavement in time nor the skills and grit to hold his line and carve around her. Its a shame and stupid granny jokes are not appropriate for a death. Death is real even on the interweb. This poor lady is dead. If your a skater put her in your prayers. I mean any type of prayer you might engage in of all denominations and other. I deal with cops stopping me and ticketing me as I skate primarily as transportation in all types of weather and terrain. This type of incident makes my life miserable. This just all around horrible. Even that kid must be crying himself to sleep. Now bring on more disrespectful dead granny jokes because that is the skater way right? Accidents happen on bikes blades motorcycles cars etc. They happen with young and old. The skater ethos of risk taking is far and beyond that of bikes blades etc. and thus when an incident happens like this the skaters will be given more attention. Criminalization of youth activities is not a solution to accidents. This is a stalemate. you cannot put all the kids in jail who skate. you cannot protect all grannies from accidents in crosswalks.

    July 8, 2011 at 10:46 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Dea2

    Though it is tragic that a woman lost her life because a child was doing something he should not have been doing, I was impressed that he had the sense of responsibility and humanity to stay with her instead of running off like many "adults" would have done if they had hit her with a bike or a car.

    July 9, 2011 at 12:38 am | Report abuse |
  15. roll forever

    I love how people are saying the skater should've had more control. I skate whenever im not at work or in class and can say this from experience 15-20 mph is pretty fast on a skateboard and have had my share of falling or bailing while bombing a hill due to speed wobble, pebble in the road, etc. Everyone who is stating comments along those lines should ride a bike down a hill with some good speed and jump off and realize that it is hard to control yourself when your stable but the object you're on is moving at 15-20 mph. I feel for both parties and am sad that her life was taken away and for her family and friends who all are mourning her death, as for the skater that was a freak accident and has to deal with this for the rest of his life. All in all it was a accident that ended with tragic results.

    July 9, 2011 at 2:43 am | Report abuse |
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