Longboarding death prompts calls for new safety measures
BURLINGTON, Vt.- When you drop your kids off at college, you never expect it’s the last time you will see them. “Everyone’s not really talking as much as they used to. It’s just really sad,” said Zach Briggs, a freshman at Champlain College. Briggs had just met 18-year-old Peter Cernansky; they lived in the same dorm for less than a week. Cernansky died after falling and hitting his head longboarding in Burlington. He was not wearing a helmet. Longboarding is like skateboarding with a longer board. “I actually called my mom… just to tell her I loved her, just because I needed to tell her. Just so you know I’m OK, but this is what’s going on. And I lost it, I started crying right there,” Briggs said. “And I don’t know why I’m crying because I hardly knew him, but it was really upsetting.”
Four days later, signs of the accident are still on Spruce Street; spots where police marked Cernansky’s trajectory, and flowers left nearby. “It’s so upsetting,” said Stefanie Waite, who lives just a few feet from where Cernansky lost control.
Waite says the riders on her street always made her nervous and she was worried someone would get hurt. “There are kids skateboarding here almost every afternoon,” she said. Waite and her neighbors are taking action on their own, going into the street telling riders to slow down and wear safety gear. “Now we’re more aware than ever if they have helmets on, so now we come out and tell them to please wear one,” Waite said. Mayor Miro Weinberger, D-Burlington, says he hopes the tragedy will focus the city on the issue of riding and safety, but he’s just not sure yet what the solution is. “The possibility of whether there should be some kind of helmet law is something the city should look into,” Weinberger said. At Champlain College, counselors are helping students and faculty deal with the loss. “This is the stuff you hear about,” Briggs said, “the stories the school tells you about when you come in. And we’re living it. It’s just awful.”
Residents on Spruce Street say that they aren’t sure what exactly should be done; some say speed bumps and others just want there to be greater awareness about safety.