Skateboarder hit by car dies of injuries

Friends set up a shrine to the 18-year old skateboarder hit by a car on Marin Avenue. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel

Update 6:20 p.m. According to the Berkeley Police Department, Tyler De Martini died today at 4:10 p.m.

Berkeley police have determined that De Martini was in the wrong in the collision with a Prius at 7:05 pm on Monday. De Martini was skateboarding in the street in violation of the California Vehicle Code, which requires skateboarders to use sidewalks if they are available. The CVC reads: “No pedestrian may walk upon any roadway outside of a business or residence district otherwise than close to his or her left-hand edge of the roadway.”

Original story: The 18-year old skateboarder who was hit by a car Monday evening while traveling on Marin Avenue is still in grave condition, according to Berkeley police.

The youth, who lived in Berkeley but attended El Cerrito High School, was hit by a 54-year old man driving a Prius around 7:05 pm on Jan. 30. The driver was heading eastbound on Marin negotiating a  left hand/northbound turn onto Tulare when the two collided, according to Berkeley police. There was no alcohol involved in the collision and the driver was not charged.

The youth was not wearing a helmet. Since he is an adult, he was not legally required to. Berkeley police are not releasing his name for confidentiality reasons, although local media and social networks have identified him as Tyler De Martini.

The intersection where the youth was struck was decorated Tuesday with notes and candles from friends. “We (heart) Tyler,” read one sign.

“Dear Tyler. We are deeply saddened by this tragedy. This should not have happened to you,” said another sign attached to a stop sign.

Another sign asks drivers to slow down.

Here is a spreadsheet of fatal pedestrian-auto collisions since 1984 prepared by BPD.

Teenage skateboarder seriously injured by car [01.31.12]

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  • M Atkins

    It’s simply not true that pedestrians have a lawful right to cross at ANY intersection  (i.e., trivially, there are roadways from which they are prohibited). The driver was cited for NOTHING — not speeding OR travelling at an unsafe speed, texting, or DUI — NOTHING. The deceased WAS in violation of traffic laws AND wearing dark clothing at night (but no helmet) while doing so.

    I don’t mean to be harsh — I am very, very sorry about the loss of life — but there is ABSOLUTELY NO CAUSE for this criticism of the driver IN THIS PARTICULAR CASE. He’s going to have to live with this for the rest of his life… and there but for dumb luck go the rest of us drivers who DO take responsibility, and have nevertheless come close to hitting a skateboarder through no fault of our own.

  • Zelda Bronstein

    joshua a:  When the City took out the two auto through lanes and added the bike lanes, it also removed the pedestrian refuge on the northwest corner Marin at Fresno. I believe the signals were also changed to give pedestrians more time to cross Marin. Nevertheless, I miss that refuge a lot.

  • Zelda Bronstein

    Correction: the pedestrian refuge at Marin and Fresno that the City removed was in the center of Marin on the west side of the intersection.

  • Zelda Bronstein

    (Again, I’m not replying to Charles but to one of his respondents; Berkeleyside editors: can you tweak this format to make that kind of reply possible?)

     Eve: You may be right about the current budget and the lack of police enforcement of the speed limit on Marin. But the problem predates the City’s financial woes. When Marin was put on a “road diet,” the economy was booming. Finances were never mentioned as an issue. Neither was getting the police to ticket speeding drivers. The major impetus for removing the lanes was to expand Berkeley’s bicycling lanes.

  • Ian Brett Cooper

    How does a driver not get charged for hitting someone who was clearly in front of him? I realize skateboarders should be on the sidewalk, but aren’t drivers supposed to be aware of people who are in the street? I mean what if a pedestrian had a medical emergency and fell into the road – are drivers then allowed to just roll over them? Surely not!

    We have a deep systemic problem in this country, in that drivers are held to no standard at all on the road. A driving license here is essentially a license to kill.

  • Eval

    sure, you can be right, and still be dead.

  • Fedupwithentitlement

    south berkeley ped, you are exactly the type of narcissistic, selfish person that makes trying to get around the east bay difficult for everyone but you.  all in the name of your ‘rights’ which you consider to be greater than those around you.  if a couple of cars are coming, is it really that much of an inconvenience to stop and let them pass?  how much energy do you consume waiting a few seconds?  how much energy does a line of cars expend stopping and starting for you?  how dangerous is it for you to wait a few seconds?  how dangerous is it to expect everyone in a car to be constantly distracted watching for oblivious pedestrians, randomly slamming on their brakes with other cars following?  it’s not about rights, it’s about common courtesy and decency, which is a two way street.  try thinking of something outside your own inconvenience.  getting from point a to point b is something everyone should be able to do safely, whether they are walking, driving, or anything in between.  it’s not the mode of transportation that’s important, it’s the people trying to get somewhere so they can live their lives and pursue some happiness. 


  • Guest

     Car accessories are very cool, I wish all the people who own a car wearing these accessories, not just to beautify the car but present safety to ….Car Accessories

  • Andrew

    What amazes me is how many pedestrians enter crosswalks without glancing left or right to check for traffic, and they keep walking without looking as cars approach them.

  • Fedupwithentitlement

    we have a traffic code at every level of government.  if you violate it and are caught, you are punished.  if you do not violate it, even in the case of a tragic accident, you are not punished. 

    if you are driving your car down the street lawfully and someone who is not supposed to be there suddenly appears in front of you, not leaving you enough time to react properly, you are not at fault, no matter how tragic the outcome.


  • Andrew

    Last year a pedestrian in San Francisco was killed by a bicyclist. Therefore bicycles are a license to kill.

  • Zelda: I’ve tweaked the settings so there can be more than five levels of replies. We’ll see how it goes. In the past, I’ve found it gets visually difficult as the column gets very narrow after many levels of replies. 

  • Guest

    Pedestrian safety and more traffic calming (especially signal timing) would be appreciated but probably would not have made a difference here.  The cause of this sensless death was the skateboarder, who was in the street at night without lights or reflectors.

  • Charles_Siegel

    There is not enough data on this one street to be statistically significant.  You need a larger data set to do a valid statistical study.  

  • Charles_Siegel

    It is a truism that cities make money ticketing parking violations but lose money ticketing moving violations.  It is not economically feasible for the city to do enough enforcement to have a significant effect on speed.  The only way to do it is with traffic engineering solutions, such as speed humps and road diets.

  • Ellen

    This is a huge tragedy and I feel for the family and friends of Tyler.  As I am reading the posts about what the law says about pedestrians vs. cars,etc., I cannot ignore the importance of wearing a helmet while skateboarding or bicycling.  Perhaps something that simple may have made the difference between in this boy’s life.

  • Ellen

    This is a huge tragedy and I feel for the family and friends of Tyler. 
    As I am reading the posts about what the law says about pedestrians vs.
    cars,etc., I cannot ignore the importance of wearing a helmet while
    skateboarding or bicycling.  Perhaps something that simple may have made
    the difference in this boy’s life. 

  • Jennifer

    So sad.

  • Bruce Love

    Berkeleyside, you update quote the California Vehicle Code:  “The CVC reads: “No pedestrian may walk upon any roadway outside of a
    business or residence district otherwise than close to his or her
    left-hand edge of the roadway.””

    The intersection at question is within a residential zone.

  • South Berkeley Ped

    Completely agree about not being the center of the universe. Pretty sure wanting drivers to stop for me when I’m in a crosswalk does not constitute narcissism!

    My only point here is to get drivers to think about the fact that they also are not centers of the universe and that having to slow down or stop for pedestrians is not a hardship but a responsibility…

  • Charles_Siegel

    “The major impetus for removing the lanes was to expand Berkeley’s bicycling lanes.”

    That is not true.  The major impetus came from Albany residents who wanted to make their neighborhood safer. 

    Albany made the change in Marin before Berkeley did.  Albany is not known for its bicycle activists.  Albany is known for its neighborhood activists, who wanted to protect their neighborhoods from high-speed traffic driving down Marin from the Berkeley hills.

    After Albany made the change, there were only a few blocks of Marin in Berkeley which had four lanes. Some Berkeley residents resisted changing these few blocks, though it would have caused congestion and danger for drivers to have a sudden change from four-lanes in Berkeley to two-lanes in Albany.

    It seems that some of these Berkeley residents organized against the change by blaming blaming the plan on bicyclists – apparently deciding that they could stir up angry neighborhood opposition by running a hate campaign against a minority group. Bicyclists are one of the few minorities that it is still acceptable to denigrate.

    See the letter in the daily planet saying “The bicycle fanatics got their way and punished the rest of us” at

    and see my response at

  • South Berkeley Ped


    I’d say that “common sense” also includes slowing down to check for pedestrians when you’re driving a vehicle… And I must have some measure of sense if I’ve managed to avoid getting hit by overly-aggressive drivers long enough to post about it on this thread… =)

  • Charles_Siegel

    I will add that Dan Burden, who invented the name “road diet,” intended them to improve pedestrian safety.  The bike lanes were incidental to the goal of protecting pedestrians and residents by slowing traffic. 

    Here is the goal of road diets, as described by Fox News:

    Instead of making the street wider to accommodate more cars, the crew
    reduces it from four lanes to two in a project called a “road diet.” The
    goal is to rein in aggressive drivers and make shopping areas
    friendlier to pedestrians.

    Fox News is not known for sympathizing with radical bicyclists.  In fact, they deny global warming and oppose virtually every environmental initiative.  They are a favorite of the Tea Party.

    Nevertheless, they are sympathetic to road diets, because they realize that road diets are intended to protect pedestrian safety.

  • South Berkeley Ped

    From the CA Driver Handbook (

    -Respect the right-of-way of
    pedestrians. Always stop for any
    pedestrian crossing at corners
    or other crosswalks, even if the
    crosswalk is in the middle of the
    block, at corners with or without
    traffic lights, whether or not the
    crosswalks are marked by painted

    -Do not pass a vehicle that has
    stopped at a crosswalk. A pedestrian
    you cannot see may be
    crossing the street. Stop, then proceed when all pedestrians have crossed the street.

    -Do not drive on a sidewalk, except
    to cross it to enter or exit a
    driveway or alley. When crossing,
    yield to all pedestrians.

    -Do not stop in a crosswalk.
    You will place pedestrians in

    -Remember, if a pedestrian makes
    eye contact with you, he or she is
    ready to cross the street. Yield to
    the pedestrian.

    -Allow older pedestrians, disabled
    pedestrians and pedestrians with
    young children sufficient time to
    cross the street.Of course we’re not talking about freeways or other restricted access roads here — but this list does pertain to all normal city streets, so I’m still very comfortable with my statement about the rights of pedestrians above.

  • It was bound to happen someday & today is that day. Bruce, I agree with you on this. Mark it on the calendar.

  • Bingo

  • I guess you need to read my post again…slower and more carefully.

    What you’ve said happens to you in crosswalks never happens to me when I’m walking around W.B. and Downtown, probably because of what I described about my behaviors at the top of my post.

    Sounds like you are one of the other types of pedestrians that I referred to in the middle of my post.

    It’s just a guess, but I’d bet that an insurance underwriter running the stats on probable lifespans might come up with substantially different forecasts for you and me based on our behaviors as pedestrians around town.

  • EBGuy

    I agree Bruce. That section of code would be for walking along a narrow
    section of road way in Tilden Park (you may walk on the road facing
    traffic in a non-residential and non-business).

    The skateboarder  was likely in violation of CVC 21966 and also
    BMC 14.32.060E when skateboarding down Marin.

    CVC 21966. No pedestrian shall proceed along a bicycle path or lane where there is an adjacent adequate pedestrian facility.BMC 14.32.060 E.  Sidewalks shall be used for skateboarding where available, and skateboarders will yield the right-of-way to pedestrians;At the point the skateboarder enters the intersection, it becomes a bit less clear (not sure if the “bike lane”continues through the intersection). This may be the most pertinent section of CVC.21954. (a) Every pedestrian upon a roadway at any point other thanwithin a marked crosswalk or within an unmarked crosswalk at anintersection shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles upon theroadway so near as to constitute an immediate hazard. (b) The provisions of this section shall not relieve the driver ofa vehicle from the duty to exercise due care for the safety of anypedestrian upon a roadway.

  • BSB

    I live just blocks from where this took place and can only say this:  bashing the driver is unfair and a rush to judgement.  There is no indication that he was breaking any law (including driving too fast) and if one were familiar with the intersection, you would know that Tyler was coming DOWN hill (likely at a fair rate of speed) and the Prius was driving up hill.  The sheer laws of physics and the lack of reflective clothing and a HELMET are what are to blame here…. I am a runner and often run in the early morning when the sun is not up- NEVER would I enter an intersection without stopping to make sure I am in the clear.  I can only imagine that the kid did not stop in this case based on the fact that he impacted with the car with enough force to sustain life threatening injuries.  This is terrible for all involved.  

  • Bruce Love

    Here is the relevant part of the BPD press release:

    Although difficult to share, the BPD preliminary collision investigation has determined the PCF – Primary Collision Factor as “a pedestrian in the roadway. Skateboarders are considered pedestrians in the CA. Vehicle Code. Pedestrian on Roadway CVC 21956.  (a) No pedestrian may walk upon any roadway outside of a business or residence district otherwise than close to his or her left-hand edge of the roadway.

    The cited code, as far as any of us can see, plainly does not apply to this situation.   I’ve asked Sgt. Kusmiss to clarify.   (I’d rather not join you in speculating about which other code might actually apply until we hear back from BPD to clarify what code they think applies.)

  • Gordo

    Isn’t there a bicycle lane there?  Also, if the driver hit the skateboarder while making a left turn, does that mean this was in an intersection?  Is there a crosswalk there? What would the rights be for a pedestrian crossing that intersection?

  • M Atkins

    You’re entitled to be comfortable with your statement — it’s still wrong. Pedestrians DO NOT have a lawful right to cross at ANY intersection. (b) Local authorities may install signs at or adjacent to an intersection directing that pedestrians shall not cross in a crosswalk indicated at the intersection. It is unlawful for any pedestrian to cross at the crosswalk prohibited by a sign. 
    21954.(a) Every pedestrian upon a roadway at any point other than within a marked crosswalk or within an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles upon the roadway so near as to constitute an immediate hazard.
    (b) This section does not relieve a pedestrian from the duty of using due care for his or her safety. No pedestrian may suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle that is so close as to constitute an immediate hazard. No pedestrian may unnecessarily stop or delay traffic while in a marked or unmarked crosswalk.
    ”A lot of people think pedestrians have the right of way no matter what,” [Eureka Sr. Traffic Officer Gary] Whitmer said. “They don’t.” 

  • libraterian

    This tragedy is a bomb exploding in the middle of crowd. Those closest to him suffer unspeakable pain and will grieve the rest of their lives. Further away the sadness eventually fades, but always returns, brought back by a comment or something you see. For those who only read about it, who have children, it torments us with fear for our own. All together there may hundreds in this crowd.

    If all these people suffer the horrible consequences how can we say it’s a personal decision to endanger yourself? We, the collaterally damaged, have a right to defend ourselves. No more “it’s only a crime if you’re caught”, or “it’s only dangerous if you die”.

    Your kid says he/she doesn’t need a helmet to bike or skateboard, the answer is “You live in my house. You’ll have a helmet on every time I see you riding. I can’t make you wear it when your out of my sight, but you will have it with you, and it will be on whenever I do see you.”

    A cyclist runs a stop sign in front of you. Honk and yell “Stop at the signs!”

    A jaywalker steps out between cars. Honk and  yell “Use the crosswalk!”

    A motorist cuts you off in the bike lane. Get the license plate and report it to DMV. If it’s a company vehicle call the company. 

    Social pressure.

  •  I’m not as familiar with this intersection as other posters here are, but larger stop signs might help. I know of a few intersections in San Francisco where they use double-sized stop signs in order for them to be more noticeable.

    Solar-powered flashing yellow lights above the stop signs could also be helpful. Pressure-sensitive pavement with flashing lights (see the crosswalks on San Pablo near Arizmendi as an example) could also be extremely helpful for troublesome intersections, but the cost of installing such a system might be prohibitive.

  • Anonymous

    the problem is here in Berkeley we would have to have a committee to decide who compiles the data for the statistics and it would never get done.

  • Anonymous

    well if we stopped trying to solve the whole worlds problems we could afford implement the measures to make marin more safe, we as a city waste so much money spinning our wheels worrying about stuff that doesn’t concern us on city level…i say we and us with much reservation!