Former Marine Ian Tilmann was skateboarding down Hercules Ave on “Cemetery Hill” on the evening of May 16, 2005, with friends when a problem with a wheel on his longboard caused it to abruptly stop, throwing Ian to the pavement. He was not wearing a helmet. Ian suffered a traumatic brain injury when his skull cracked and his brain banged into his skull in several places, causing his brain to swell. He died ten days later without ever regaining consciousness.
To honor Ian’s life and to prevent other skaters from losing their lives, Ian’s parents, Marcy and Barry Tilmann, created the Ian Tilmann Foundation, which provides free helmets to skateboarders who are willing to sign a contract promising to always use them while boarding.
To date, the foundation has distributed more that 3600 skating helmets.
Barry Tilmann travels around the United States speaking on behalf of the foundation. He is now working on organizing races in hopes of creating a regular race schedule, where each race will attract a pool of new riders signing up for races requiring helmets.
Since the foundation’s inception, the distribution of free helmets has been credited with saving five lives, saving thirty-five people from hospitalization, and preventing countless traumatic brain injuries.
High Rate of Traumatic Brain Injury Among Skateboarders
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reported that in 2009, 23,114 skaters were treated in hospital emergency rooms for TBI, an average of three skaters per hour around the clock!
The Ian Tilmann Foundation keeps records of Fallen Skaters™ who have died from traumatic brain injuries resulting from skateboarding without wearing a helmet. According to foundation records, at least one skater dies every week from skateboarding. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends that skateboarding should be restricted to supervised skateboard parks and that protective gear should be required in order to reduce the number of skateboarders injured in motor vehicle collisions, reduce skater injuries, and reduce injuries to pedestrians being hit by skateboarders.
Jim Dodson Law, a Florida personal injury firm, encourages all people participating in activities that can cause traumatic brain injuries to always wear helmets in order to prevent or mitigate these devastating injuries, and supports the NIH position. Nevertheless, motor vehicle drivers also have a responsibility to be alert to people who are participating in these types of sports.