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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, July 29, 2002

A tragic reminder about sport helmets

It absolutely should not take the death of a fine young man to teach us a needed lesson, but we needlessly and pointlessly compound the tragedy if we fail to heed that lesson.

The tragedy is the death of 18-year-old Rayne Rasmussen, who died a month ago when he fell from his skateboard and struck his head. He was not wearing a helmet.

"If anyone learns anything from this," says Rayne's father, Rusty, "it's that it may not be cool to wear a helmet, but it's not cool to die."

We should be grateful for a father's impulse to go public with this message at a time that might otherwise be devoted to private grieving. "Parents need to have an understanding and kids need an understanding that when you are on a skateboard, skates, scooter — whatever — without a helmet, and you hit your head the wrong way, you can die," he reminds.

He's right about the need for parental involvement. We're all familiar with young people's assumption of their invincibility. It's an assumption that is shattered far too often.

Helmets won't keep young people from trying crazy stunts, but they'll lower substantially the price they pay.