Editor’s Note: This is a guest editorial written by Michelle Menter. It was not written by the Ithaca Voice. Submit guest columns to email@example.com.
ITHACA, N.Y. — My daughter Elsa nearly died when she was struck by a skateboarder at the Ithaca Skate Jam last year.
She lay in a crumpled, unnatural heap by the curb. I thought she had died. I wondered how anyone could be living–how the world could keep spinning. Her brother Frankie fainted and I guess I was screaming. Elsa looked so little and still for someone who meant the entire world.
When she started moaning I split open with relief. The world would go on!
I spent Mother’s Day at the hospital thankful to be near her and take care of her. Rapturous over her aliveness. She sustained a concussion that caused headaches and fatigue for months. Her ankle was broken and muscles were torn. One side of her body was covered with abrasions from scraping across the road, the other side was covered with bruises from the impact of the collision.
My sister Mya Menter and her daughter Lena were also hit. Mya’s leg was bruised so badly she couldn’t walk the next day and Lena’s permanent tooth was chipped.
We weren’t supposed to be crossing the road though many did that day. Even for those who didn’t cross there was danger. I saw a skater crash into a baby in a stroller which was parked on the grass– fortunately the baby wasn’t hurt but it just goes to show you how close we all were to a real tragedy on that day.
Because this is a public, city-sanctioned event there’s a false sense of security for the spectators. Most folks (myself included) thought the skaters were the only ones taking a risk that day. Spectators should be protected and educated by the event with signage, blocking devices and through better communication along the entire route (with staff on walkie-talkies) and with announcements by the dj in regular intervals regarding how they can keep themselves safe while watching. I hope there will be all this and more to keep spectators safe this year.
Skaters accept risk and injury as part of the sport they love and mitigate that risk with knee pads and helmets. I hope Skate Jam will minimize the risk of watching the event so no spectator is ever hurt as much as Elsa again.
Photo by Sam Scott/The Ithaca Voice