[a version of this letter was also sent to the City’s mayor and council members]
While holding my tongue for the last eight months against my better judgment, I now realize it is not only time to save the life of a skateboarder, but probably my own and all motorists driving within Laguna Beach.
The X-treme skateboarding phenomenon currently plaguing Laguna Beach is completely out of control. The majority of these adolescents participating recklessly through our streets are not only dangerous to themselves, but the outright recalcitrant and incorrigible behavior accompanying them endangers all of us as well.
Even as I came home from work this evening, approaching the intersection of Cress and Catalina, the woman in front of me could not enter the intersection because three skateboarders were weaving through the stop sign, zigzagging as they went. I saw the woman roll her window down and try and speak to these kids only to see them spit, offer obscene gestures with their hands and yell at her.
So, what prompted me now to write this letter? Well, some eight months ago while driving home from work as I came down Catalina, out of nowhere a youth on a skateboard came right across the road and virtually slid under my bumper. I thought I had killed the kid, only to see him come out the other side and make a bee-line for his home.
I followed this youth and tried to speak with him imploring him to understand how difficult it was to see him at night and how close I came to running him over. My futile attempts to reason with him were only met with denial and disdain. I eventually calmed down and let the incident blow over, attributing his attitude to one of reckless youth.
Well, this past Sunday, Oct. 31, at around 10:30 a.m., as I drove down Catalina attempting to bring my wife breakfast in town where she works in a local store, again out of no where a youth came out on a skateboard right in front of my car. I hit the brakes so hard the only thing that prevented me from launching through the windshield was my shoulder and lap belt. I do not know how I missed this kid, really. I have no idea how I did not hit him or, for that matter, lose control of my car and either injure myself or cause significant property damage. I was so shaken up that I had to get out of the car and catch my breath. As I was shaking, off to the side a father and son doing yard work, who witnessed this and could not believe it either, asked if I was alright.
The youth on the skate board vanished out of sight as fast as he appeared. However, I did see his face for the fact he was not wearing a helmet, and guess who it was? Yes, the same youth from eight months earlier on the same streets near his home.
This time, I was intent on speaking to his parents, as this is just an accident waiting to happen. Unfortunately, when I got to his home at 1124 Catalina, even though the door was open to a screen, no one would come to the door with my knocking.
I went straight to the police department and told my story to a receptionist, who informed me that an officer would investigate and follow-up with me. Some hours later, an officer did come to my home and informed me that I was fortunate the parent did not answer the door, as they were in complete agreement with and in defense of their son’s actions and hobby. The officer also instructed me that should this happen again in the future, as this was actually the third complaint regarding this youth and a motorist, I should come straight to the police department, since attempting to reason with these parents would only be another exercise in futility.
My question and concern is how much longer will it be, and what will it take, to get the City’s attention? Perhaps a youth’s death or a youth becoming a quadriplegic? Or someone like me, acting out of defense trying to avoid the above and running off the road and hitting something or someone else, all while trying to avoid a reckless, unsafe skateboarder running wild in our streets, obstructing traffic and behaving belligerently to anyone who questions this recklessness.
The adoration these youths receive from other youths for their reckless heroics is becoming absurd and only contributes to their recalcitrant, incorrigible behavior. The particular officer who attempted to assist me actually told me that this was the third time he had warned this particular youth about not wearing a helmet and reckless pedestrian behavior.
Apparently, it just doesn’t resonate with these kids or their parents that there is a very serious potential for injury, paralysis or even worse. Perhaps the fact that not all motorists who run over pedestrians are found to be in violation will resonate?
Here is the web address for the YouTube video of this particular individual, who I have almost run over twice and whose parents advocate this reckless behavior: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mo7qvRVKdDk&NR=1.
Dr. Farley Brown