Hazardous Waste

Skateboarding claims Eric Costello, a popular professional, reigniting the debate over helmet laws in skate parks.

Photo by Shmuel Thaler/Santa Cruz SentinelPhoto by Shmuel Thaler/Santa Cruz Sentinel Admirers of Eric Costello found it ironic - and remarkably sad - that the full-time professional skateboarder and part-time safety evangelist died as a result of an accident at his Oct. 22 youth clinic at a Scotts Valley, Calif., skate park. What's even more disturbing is the fact that the 34-year-old was wearing a helmet at the time of his accident.

But Costello's helmet flew off when he lost his balance during his patented "Costello Gap" - a big frontside maneuver in which he would roll into the bowl from atop an 8 1/2- to 9-foot ledge, launch off a smaller 2- to 3-foot lip, shoot a gap and land on the downslope of another 3-foot section. Costello, having built up enough momentum, tripped before shooting the gap and awkwardly fell headfirst, his skull smashing onto the concrete bowl several feet below.

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