Skateboarding Death Prompts Forest Hills Initiative

The death of Hank Woodhall, 16, last week has Forest Hills police Chief Chuck Williams looking into securing helmets for local skateboarders.

The tragic death of Hank Woodhall, 16, of Forest Hills in a skateboarding accident last week has Forest Hills police Chief Chuck Williams working to try to ensure the safety of other local skateboarders.

Williams, who has children of his own, was moved by the accident that took Woodhall's life. Because the incident occurred in neighboring Chalfant, which is patrolled by Forest Hills police, people in both communities are talking about the mishap.

As a result, Williams is in contact with Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC to find a way to provide helmets for local youths who do not have them. Although details still have to be worked out, he is hoping to have some helmets available to distribute during the borough's annual hayride on Oct. 20.

Just a week ago Woodhall, a student at Woodland Hills High School, was skateboarding with a friend down a slight grade on Fairview Avenue in Chalfant. He had been riding the RipStik, which is a cross between a skateboard and a snowboard with two wheels.

When the friend looked back, he saw Woodhall lying on the pavement. The two were part of a group that skateboarded together in the area, Williams said.

That close connection to other local youths has created a lot of awareness about the importance of helmets. Williams said some of the skateboarders who have until now resisted the safety measure are considering wearing helmets.

Williams said distributing the helmets at the hayride would provide a venue where parents are also made aware of the safety issues and the importance of helmet use.

Woodhall, who had hoped to be an emergency medical technician, died two days after the accident. And even in his death, he saved a life. His parents, Dale and Max Woodhall, made the decision to donate his organs—and his heart went to a little girl.

A memorial service was held Wednesday at Christ Lutheran Church in Forest Hills.

Click here to see WTAE-TV's coverage of the service.

To see how the community has rallied since Hank's death see:

Forest Hills Teen Dies After Skateboarding Accident

Wolverines Dedicate Friday's Game to Teen Killed in Skateboard Mishap


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Patti Amato September 28, 2012 at 01:35 AM
This is so sad. I am glad Chief Williams is taking the initiative on this and trying to secure helmets for the kids in the community. I hope he can get them from/through UPMC. If he can't perhaps another great story like this one asking the community for donations of a specific type of helmet or funds to purchase helmets.
Mary September 29, 2012 at 12:54 AM
Maybe they can ask for monetary donations at the hayride or other local events like maybe at the Friday farmer's market. It's such a sad story.


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