SAN PEDRO (CBS) — Kids are taking skateboarding to deadly new extremes and CBS2 caught it on tape.
More adolescents and teens are “bombing” – where skateboarders skate down hills at speeds up to 45 mph, often without helmets.
There are videos of these death-defying stunts strewn across YouTube.
One video shows teens flying down 7th Street in San Pedro and blowing through stop signs. It’s a common sight in San Pedro, whose hills make the city a skateboarder’s Mecca.
“You go down, you’re like man, this feels good. The wind’s blowing your hair like whoa. You’ve got your hat on, you got your headphones on – you’re just enjoying life. You don’t want to be home,” 18-year-old Jonathan Riedy said.
The San Pedro resident admits he’s been a hill bomber himself – until it all changed one day on Western Avenue last November.
Riedy was with a group of skateboarders, including his friend 14-year-old Michael Borojevich, at the intersection of 25th and Western to try their luck at the street’s downward plunge toward the Pacific Ocean.
“I didn’t have any feeling in my stomach that day saying something bad is going to happen. We’re all going to get to the bottom and we’re going to chill at the beach down there for a little bit and, then, we’re all going back home,” Riedy said of that day.
Borojevich started down the hill first and Riedy came down a couple hundred feet behind him. He noticed that Borojevich was losing his balance while they had already reached about 45 mph and fell off his skateboard.
Riedy and the group ran to find Borojevich unresponsive and bleeding on a rocky patch alongside the road.
Borojevich passed 11 days later due to severe brain trauma.
Just a couple months later, 15-year-old Caleb Simpson, from Lancaster, lost his life when he fell off his skateboard “bombing” down a smaller San Pedro Hill.
Neither Borojevich nor Simpson were wearing protective helmets when they fell and both died of brain injuries.
“We didn’t think about it. We all thought we were cool not having helmets on that day,” Riedy said.
The teens’ deaths have galvanized the community to work towards enforcing helmet laws and to crack down on speed demons who fly down the hills.
“I think it should be looked into very closely because the kids think it’s fun but we all know it’s dangerous,” said Debra Heads, who lives on 7th Street and witnesses near accidents frequently.
“You’ll see four or five kids blow through a stop sign and, before you know it, they’ve already passed you. There’s no regard for the law as far as stopping,” resident Stacy L. Heads said.
Councilman Joe Buscaino, who represents San Pedro and the rest of district 15 on the L.A. City Council, is currently drafting an ordinance that will require skateboarders to follow bicycle laws. Those laws would include obeying stop signs, keeping to the right of the road and traveling in the same direction as vehicles.
Angel Gate High School’s Principal Joan D’Amore supports the new ordinance.
“If I ever hit a student or anybody, any kid on a skateboard, I’d never get over it – especially if they died – and I’m sure most motorists feel the same way,” D’Amore said.
California state law has required skateboarders under 18 years old to wear helmets for the past 10 years.
San Pedro mom Rebecca Martin said kids are reluctantly beginning to wear them now.
“I think it’s a total necessity. Heads are important. We made it a rule and my son actually stopped skating for a while because he didn’t want to deal with the social stigma of wearing a helmet,” Martin said.
“They’re all wearing helmets and it makes me smile. You know, if Michael was here, he would be happy. Michael’s looking down on us like, ‘Man, all these kids with helmets now,’” Riedy said.
Borojevich’s father said many of his son’s organs were donated to help others.
As for law enforcement, they’re currently issuing tickets to underaged kids skateboarders without helmets and skateboarders of all ages who skate recklessly.