Skip to main content

Our Community Focus

Let’s get it on!

Sep 03, 2014 02:40PM ● By Elena Hutslar

When our kids are young, we teach them to look both ways before crossing the street, treat others how they would like to be treated, to not touch a hot stove, and not run with scissors. When my kids were young, another rule was to wear a helmet when riding a bike, skateboard, Ripstik, or any other transportation contraption. However, as my kids got older and the stove, scissors, and crossing the street were no longer a concern, I stopped enforcing the helmet rule. After all, all the other kids were not wearing them.


On March 20, I received a call from Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital. They said my son, Ryan, had fallen off his skateboard and suffered a head injury and that I should come down as soon as possible. I called his mom, Terri, and we packed a bag with items for a few days, thinking he had a bump on his head and we would have to drive him home on Sunday. Not so fast. We arrived at the hospital to find our son in a medically induced coma, where he remained for the next two weeks. Needless to say, the sight of our son in this condition sent us to our knees. As I sat at his bedside, I couldn’t help but think of Kate Hopkins, the young girl from Martinez who had died just a few days earlier from the same type of accident, falling off a skate- board with no helmet. My thoughts were, Please God, don’t let Ryan be next.


While sitting bedside with our comatose son over the next few weeks, we did get out a bit for breaks in Santa Barbara. What Terri and I both noticed was that none of the kids on bicycles or skateboards were wearing helmets. Our thoughts turned to, “Why did we as parents ever stop enforcing this?” Then, once back in Pleasant Hill, we noticed the same thing.


It is a law in California that individuals under 18 must wear a helmet when riding a bike or skate board. Why is this law not enforced? Why as parents do we not enforce it? I recently addressed the Pleasant Hill City Council on this issue. I was pleased with their supportive response. The Chief of Police for Pleasant Hill offered his contact information and commented that we should connect to initiate a dialogue.


We have seat belt laws and parking laws and texting laws. All of which are enforced. I can assure you that the mortality rate for illegal parking is zero. Not the same for brain trauma as the result of a head injury. Let’s get helmets on all of our kids when they’re riding anything that moves. It’s not just the law; it may save you much grief and heartache.