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. SophieCat

    Would we be thinking the same thing if he had killed a small child with his "runaway" skateboard?? Think of it THAT WAY, why don'cha.

    July 7, 2011 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Angelique

      Good point – though I still wouldn't put him in jail. Community service which includes going around to schools and telling his story to high school students would help everyone.

      July 7, 2011 at 6:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • quirkysan

      But it wasn't a little kid... so argument invalid. Different situations require different actions.

      July 14, 2011 at 11:54 pm | Report abuse |
  2. ted

    She was 83! Its unfortunate that it happened but I am sure the woman lived a good life. You got to admit it was about time for her to go. Unfortunately it happened this way!

    July 7, 2011 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • GK

      Ted, I hope some have more compassion on you when your "OLD AND IT'S YOUR TIME TO GO !! but, maybe not and they will just pull your plug and kick you in a hole and cover you up. Oh well no big loss ! Yep !!!

      July 7, 2011 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      That is one of the more moronic comments I've ever seen. I doubt her husband thinks that.

      July 7, 2011 at 6:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Neeve

      Yippee yahoo, you're right, Ted. Another old lady off the streets. Sure, it's unfortunate she had to go "that way" but, hey....some evils are necessary, right? Dang tootin' – glad you put it all in perspective for us, Ted. I mean, I was starting to feel real compassion for everyone involved, even the kid, but you cleared all that right up. Yeah, you're right, she's better off...what the hey, probably had Alzheimer's anyway, crossing the street like that, gee whiz.

      July 7, 2011 at 6:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Obeythelaw

      Ted – you sir are a colostomy bag!

      July 7, 2011 at 6:46 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Will (a skateboarder)

    Well, cmon now, old bag lady had a full life at her age. kid is 17 and dumb, and probably was unaware of the law that dictates he should not be skateboarding there. Let bygones be bygones.

    July 7, 2011 at 5:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • jane

      Hey...can I hit you with my car now...young, jack wagon accidently plowed over by menopausal ,heavily insured woman...who just did not see him on his skateboard...you know, your eyesight is one of the first things to go when you get to be my age...he had a good life skateboarding...didn't seem that bright anyway...let bygones be bygones.

      July 7, 2011 at 5:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Skateboarders=idiots

      Will – What if that "old bag lady" was your grandmother? would you post the same commment, Dude? You are a perfect example why the general perception of skaters is that they are nothing but a bunch of unproductive punks with too much time on their hands.

      July 7, 2011 at 6:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Neeve

      Dang skippy, Will, you tell 'em. That's a great thought, gee, the poor skateboarder. Imagine, he might actually feel bad about her dying and all, least for a little while. Maybe we should pitch in and get him some counseling, eh? Poor kid, he sure deserves all our compassion, it's not his fault he doesn't know any laws. come on....Stupid old lady, shouldn't have been trying to cross the street at her age anyway, right, sheesh. Too bad she's not here to be a "bygone" like he is.

      Fact: you are an idiot. Not negotiable. Have a nice life.

      July 7, 2011 at 6:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Trevor

      While my first reaction was to believe that this was just an unfortunate accident and the young man was not liable, seeing your calous posting has caused me to contemplate. Since he was skateboarding in a restricted area, he should to be held to some onus. You have shown, Will, that the skateboard stereotype should be applied, perhaps to the detriment of the young man who caused the accident. Go and skateboard in a park or abandoned parking lot.

      July 7, 2011 at 6:39 pm | Report abuse |
  4. John Gaddis

    Some of you people with your opinions crack me up and I thank you for it.

    How anyone can draw the conclusion that this 17 year old boy should be charged with the death of this woman is beyond me. It isn't like he beat her over the head with the skateboard.

    By all accounts your reactions leave me needing to ask. If he was on a Bicycle and he hit and killed her, which is not traffic law which he was charged with, would you all be demanding he be brought up on Manslaughter charges?

    If so, I do hope your not in a position to propagate your thoughts and positions of right and wrong.

    July 7, 2011 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • T

      Maybe he should pay $4000.00 and be jailed for 6 days, releasing him July13,2011. Oh no, wait....that's your sentence if you are a muderer!

      July 7, 2011 at 6:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Todd E.

      It is easy to prove negligence when a person violates the law. As was stated, the kid was skating in an area banned by law. I still agree with the sentiment that "skateboarding is not a crime" (as stated by many stickers and tags). However, causing the unlawful death of another human being IS a crime. What I have observed over the years is that skaters do commit tresspass and vandalism on a routine basis. While I don't believe he should be charged with murder, he should be held accountable.

      July 7, 2011 at 6:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rick Springfield

      Her family can file a civil suit against him and his family. If i were on the jury I would go for something like $500,000. That's because of her age and that amount will get the kid's attention. Its also not impossible for the kid to be able to pay that throughout his working life. I would probably place a 15 year limit on it though. I would order that all his tax refunds for the next 15 years go toward the judgement. I would also attach his wages for 25 percent of his net income. As for the parents they could choose to help with the settlement but the kid really needs to pay it out to remember what he did to the lady.

      July 8, 2011 at 12:01 am | Report abuse |
  5. sucks

    Accidents happen, I cruise the hills in my town...I try to be very cautious, its a shame this had happened but it was an accident. I've come close to being hit by cars, either on a bike or skateboard..its your time you got to go. Don't look at skateboarding as a bad thing, its the way a lot of people get around these days. its easier then a bike sometimes, especially in nyc.

    July 7, 2011 at 5:41 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Dave

    Surely, this is a tragedy. It was completely unintentional and a total accident. This teen did not run from his mistake, inasmuch as he stayed by her side. He has been punished enough with the violation, as well as with the guilt he is going to live with for the rest of his life.

    July 7, 2011 at 5:48 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Speak from experience

    Skateboarding can and should be viewed as a mode of transportation, not a childish thing to do. I am 35 and still do it as often as I can. If a 50 year old bicyclist on a tricked out mountain bike wearing a helmet had been the driver would it be more acceptable? Sadly, I believe it would. This kid was in an unfortunate ACCIDENT, and the woman was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Ask yourself, "If I took a poop on an airplane and the plane dropped it out, then it froze on the way down, hit an 83 year old woman and killed her. Should I then be brought up on negligent manslaughter charges?" Probably not, but this line of comments is as rediculous as my analogy.

    July 7, 2011 at 5:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • nunya

      It was illegal to ride where he was riding.

      July 7, 2011 at 6:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wrawn

      The woman was in a crosswalk. Here in Canada, she has the right of way – PERIOD. Unicycle, Bicycle, Rollerblades, Rollerskates, Skateboard – it doesn't matter. You MUST yield! If you fail to yield & cause harm to the pedestrian, you would be charged, convicted & sued for FAILURE TO YIELD TO A PEDESTRIAN IN A CROSSWALK. It's neglect. We have no right whatsoever to do harm to another person, where we have the power to control the situation. By the same token, Cyclists do not have the right of way in a crosswalk if they are riding their bicycle. If they dismount & walk the bike through the crosswalk, they have the rights of a pedestrian.

      July 7, 2011 at 7:32 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    @ ted:
    Your comment about the time for the old lady to go is disgusting.
    You have not even common sense.

    July 7, 2011 at 5:54 pm | Report abuse |
  9. marie

    a. i never once said anything about anthony. b. im simply saying its outrageous that people think this poor kid should "accept responsibility" (when they say this they also speak of charging him) for an honest accident, yet we let murderers walk free (again not saying anthony bc many others have walked free before her its a general statement). yes he was breaking the law when the accident occured but at the same time if i got hit by a skateboarder right noww chances are i wouldnt die cause im not ancient and decrepid so im sure her age, physical condition, and health had a part to do with why she died cause of this accident. had she have been in her thirties she probablly wouldnt have died so its unfair to say he should pay for it in terms of being charged with something.

    July 7, 2011 at 6:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ash

      a. What murderers are you speaking of? Those who are acquited? Should we just hang suspected murderers in the town square without a trial? b.You do know if you live long enough you will be "ancient" and "decrepit" . My grandmother is the same age as this woman, and she is far from decrepit. She can outwork any 18 year old, and has never had any serious illness or surgery.

      July 7, 2011 at 7:49 pm | Report abuse |
  10. HK from Seattle


    Tell your mother and father exactly what you wrote here and let us know what they said.

    July 7, 2011 at 6:08 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Wat

    From my experience the poor kid and his parents insurance will be sued by the surviving family, shark lawyers,etc. Accidents happen and doing the right thing afterward still changes his life forever.

    "the skateboarder, who was traveling down a steep hill, jumped off the board and tried to avoid colliding with Slettehaugh but was unable to. He stayed with the injured woman after the collision."

    July 7, 2011 at 6:09 pm | Report abuse |
  12. marie

    so im not sayin he should take responsibillity, i do believe he was very responsible for staying with her. im saying how could anyone say he should "take responsibility" for it when no one takes responsibility for far worse things

    July 7, 2011 at 6:10 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Timothy

    Skateboarding is the most idiotic thing that kids do. This kid was probably a good kid who likes to do this pointless things. May she rest in peace

    July 7, 2011 at 6:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jaydog

      Leaving an idiotic comment on here is the dumbest thing a kid could do. I suppose you are one of those football jocks who walk around with something stuck up their rear. @zzhole

      July 7, 2011 at 6:23 pm | Report abuse |
  14. eg

    That's a real shame. I don't know how fast 15 mph is on a skateboard, whether that's excessive or not, etc... but it seems like the kid did try hard to miss her, and it was good that he stayed with her instead of running away; it would be been even more horrible if she had died alone on the street. I'm the first person to get peeved when kids act like barn animals, but it doesn't seem like that was the case here. Condolences to her husband.

    July 7, 2011 at 6:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      Well said, eg.

      July 7, 2011 at 7:22 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Eric

    at least he didnt skate off into the california sun afterwards.

    July 7, 2011 at 6:21 pm | Report abuse |
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