Dodgeball in Ashland

I was just heading from the Ashland Shopping Center toward the freeway for a couple of gallons of exotic diesel when it happened.

I was not thinking about the seemingly lost Lithia Water Fountain and how it has taken years for it to complete its journey around the horn, nor did I mull the rampant non-use of the crosswalk flags on Siskiyou Boulevard in front of Southern Oregon University. No attention was given to our ongoing occupation of Iraq and the use of remote control drones firing hellfire missiles into crowded civilian neighborhoods nor the apparent lust towards attacking Iran exhibited by certain bellicose individuals in and about the current administration.

Thoughts of our meager efforts at disaster relief from New Orleans to Burma were deeply suppressed as I did my very best to drive safely through our picturesque burg, endowed by a State Highway running through the middle of a State University, sporting a surge of students, many of whom exhibit a propensity to cross the four lanes and divider without giving a second thought to the tsunami of traffic that motors on through.

After running the SOU gauntlet I turned onto Ashland Street and proceeded at a slower-than-posted pace toward the freeway. Fortunately, I was seated above the traffic in an RV and able to see around the corner due to the wide setbacks at Ross Johnston Tires when I noticed movement coming down Park Street.

Knowing that no car was directly behind me, I hit the brakes and was almost stopped when it unfolded.

A young male, atop a long skateboard, laden with a large backpack, carrying a large package and not wearing a helmet was speeding toward me. He was traveling much too fast and was out of control as he failed to make the turn, dumping his board just before body slamming into the side of the RV.

The skateboard went under my conveyance and shot out into the street, causing drivers to slam on their brakes. Several drivers dropped their jaws in disbelief and stopped their cars completely to calm their shattered nerves as the skateboarder got to his feet.

Seeing this, I turned the corner and parked, ready to offer aid, but stood helplessly as the kid who hit me ran across the street, got his skateboard and fled the scene with a fluidity usually reserved for accomplished bank robbers. Knowing it imprudent to try to follow him in an RV, I stood around and talked to a lady who saw it all unfold. She was tight with anxiety. She also had a son who rides a skateboard, so the event hit her at several levels.

Not too long ago a skateboarder shot into the street on Siskiyou and was killed. The kid who hit me would have suffered the same fate had I not slowed to a roll owing to the wide field of vision offered by fate.

Some guardian angels were obviously fully engaged that afternoon or we would have had another gut-wrenching headline about how the car always wins in such collisions.

The skateboarder was simultaneously doing many things wrong. Not wearing a helmet and padded gloves is always a bad idea. Skating on the wrong side of the street set him up for a very tight turn. Carrying a heavy bag in both hands compromised his balance when he needed it the most and the large backpack most assuredly make him top-heavy. Riding out of control into four lanes of traffic invites serious injury and death. Fleeing the scene without speaking to a single observer is both rude and illegal.

If you know of this kid and his brush with death please ask him to contact me. I want to meet him and let him know how shaken many of us were at seeing him come so close to the end of his young life.

(Lance is sighing with relief as he awaits an email from the Lucky Kid to

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