This topic has been brought up here before but I don’t want this to get buried in a previous thread. In my opinion, the more safety awareness we have, the better. Last Friday, me and a friend decided to do a quick ride before heading to a basketball game. Not a “real ride” where we pack a bunch of filming gear, protective gear, etc. just a quick 15 minute run at a local high school. My friend has been skateboarding since 5 years old and is an avid photographer/videographer so riding with him is always a good time and his shooting/eboarding skills are impeccable.
So we did a few laps in a high school parking lot and decided to ride inside of the track and field area where it’s a softer clay surface. I did my run first as my buddy filmed. Then we switched places and I started shooting him. This was pretty much the last shot before we were getting ready to leave. Suddenly and without warning, he took a bad fall while turning a corner, no mechanical errors, just clipped the edge of the track. I was wearing a helmet, he wasn’t (he’s in the middle of a move and his helmet was packed in a box - still no excuse). He started seizing on the ground and fell unconscious. Instincts kicked in, dialed 911. As I’m waiting for the medics, all I could do is watch his breathing. In my mind, all that mattered was that he was still alive. His injuries looked so traumatic - seizures, foaming at the mouth - I feared the worst and at best - a life of assisted care.
The ambulance arrived in record time. He actually woke up but was confused and slurring his words. All good signs but not enough to make any clear diagnosis. I took his car to the hospital and had to wait an excruciating 45 minutes in the waiting room before I could enter his room in the ER. The whole time I’m texting his mom and alerting his friends and co-workers. By the time I see him, he’s awake but very groggy and still confused. The doctor says he has a subdural hematoma - a fracture in the skull and bruising in the brain. As his parents arrive, he becomes agitated and belligerent to the point where they escort us into a private waiting room as they administer sedatives and painkillers to calm him down. Essentially, one of the worst experiences of my life. Fortunately, we were less than a mile away from the University of Michigan Medical Center, one of the best, most state of the art hospitals in the country.
The following day is promising. The CT scans throughout the night show no further bleeding, no permanent damage, just a few weeks of bad headaches. I visit him in the morning and he is alert, aware and remembers everything. I said a prayer and thanked God for listening to me. Yesterday he looked even better and today he will be discharged from the hospital and bedrest for the next two weeks at home. Long story short, we dodged a bullet, but we shouldn’t have put ourselves in the line of fire in the first place.
I would say that generally, guys like myself with families, tend to ride in a way that minimizes risk - from safety gear, to understanding the limits of our machines and our bodies. It’s like a subconscious switch that protects us because of this fear of not being able to provide for our kids. For some of my friends who are in their early 20’s without kids, that switch hasn’t been activated yet, they are fearless which is both admirable but very scary. Eboarding is still a sport that emphasizes speed over safety and I take full responsibility for contributing to that kind of behavior with my videos. I take full responsibility for not saying “no”. His take is that he didn’t bail correctly when he got the speed wobbles. His parents keep telling me not to beat myself up. But I see it differently, this should never have happened. I came very close to tossing all of my boards and parts into the garbage and buying an Xbox but then I realized that I have a greater purpose and that’s to put more attention to safety. Will people still get hurt riding on these machines? Yes. Can we minimize not just our own risks, but others who are not hardcore DIY enthusiasts? Yes. But we shouldn’t have to wait for loved ones to get critically injured to truly understand that.
I’d like to urge everyone to ALWAYS WEAR A HELMET even if you’re just going down the block. Even if it’s not a “real ride”. Always have a spare or two or three for anyone who wants to ride with you. No helmet, no ride, simple as that. And as an added safety feature, I’ve programmed speed limits on my VESC’s with ERPM. Some of you may scoff at the idea of lowering the speed of your machines but until you’ve experienced what I did last Friday, keeping other’s safe should always be at the top of the checklist. If you see reckless behavior, point that shit out. It’s not cool and it will ruin this sport by putting lives at risk. I don’t give a fuck about speed as long as I have my buddies next to me.
It will honestly take some time for me to get back to riding anytime soon, but just wanted to share this story while it’s still fresh in my mind. Please be careful out there and keep each other safe.