HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Skateboarders would be required to wear a helmet under a bill now being considered in the state Legislature.
The original legislation would have required helmets for skateboarders under the age of 16, the same way they're required for children riding a bicycle. The lawmaker who introduced the measure said it was partly in response to a skateboarding accident in her district. An eleven-year-old boy was seriously hurt when he skateboarded into a Handi-Van.
"I think its a common sense idea," said Rep. Linda Ichiyama (D-Moanalua Valley, Moanalua, Salt Lake). We want to make sure that our kids are safe. We want to make sure they have the proper protective gear, no matter what activity they're involved in."
Health officials are in favor of the bill because of the number of skateboarding injuries that have been reported. "We see in the emergency departments and even the trauma centers up to about -- I think it's 450 youth who are in that age category statewide," said Cary Benes, an injury prevention coordinator of the state Health Department. "That's a substantial number of kids that are getting injured on skateboards."
The House Judiciary Committee amended the bill, which would now require helmets for all skateboarders.
Paula Kurashige is the grandmother of Kameron Steinhoff, a Hawaii Pacific University basketball standout, who died last year when he fell and hit his head while skateboarding. Kurashige's nephew, Mark Kurashige, also died in a skateboarding accident on the Big Island four years ago. Both men were in their early 20s. Neither of them was wearing a helmet.
"How it would have saved Kameron or how it would have saved Mark, I don't know," Kurashige said. "But our idea is prevention again, to not let any family go through this tragedy."
At the skate park at Aala Park, about a dozen skateboarders were riding Saturday afternoon. None of them was wearing a helmet, and many of them don't want to.
"I think it's bad," said 15-year-old Chan Don. "Don't make me wear one."
Jonathan Tran, 14, agreed. "We skate for a reason. No helmets. Number one rule, no helmets."
"We do it for the fun, and helmets just make us look dumb and its just uncomfortable," said skateboarder Lukas Abiko, also 14.
"Skateboarders don't want to have that feeling of being secure because that's the whole point of it. Because you want that feeling of relief and that you did this dangerous thing, and I escaped away from it," said 15-year-old Niko Taira.
"A parent would truly say that if a kid does get injured, they would rather them be protected, especially the most vital part of their body," said Benes.
"Our idea, totally, is prevention, so that no other family has this type of tragedy in their life," Kurashige said.
The judiciary committee approved the bill and sent it to the full house for consideration.