Saturday Aug 21 2010
Skateboard-auto crash victim, 19, remembered as inspiration to others
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
Nick Brown, an avid skateboarder who became a friend to many during the short time he was in Auburn, was remembered with tears, flowers and a roadside marker in the shape of a cross late Thursday. About 50 people gathered at the side of Auburn Folsom Road, just south of Indian Hill Road, where Brown was fatally struck by a vehicle Aug. 13 while riding his skateboard. Skateboarders remembered Brown, 19, as someone who lived to skateboard and died while doing something he loved. Tyler Blanchette, a 14-year-old Auburn skateboarder, attended Thursday’s roadside memorial and remembered Brown as a talented skater who never had a down moment emotionally. On his board, Brown was known for his skills doing some of the tougher technical tricks of the sport, including nollie laser flips, tre flip rewinds and frontside flips. “He was really good,” Blanchette said. “He was probably one of the best in Auburn.” Brown worked at Auburn’s Off Axis Boardshop and was a motivating force for younger skateboarders, said 15-year-old Ben Hack. “He was a really fun person to be around,” Hack said. “If you couldn’t do a trick, he’d do everything he could to help you land it.” Brown had worked at Off Axis for about six months and had become an important part of the Auburn skating community, 15-year-old Kevin Hight said. At the memorial, Brown’s girlfriend, Alyssa Austin, wore a ring on a chain around her neck that she had given him and he was wearing the night of the accident. “He was super quirky and super perfect,” Austin said. “I knew from Day One we were made for each other and we were together for a year. But it seemed like forever.” At Thursday’s roadside memorial and at a funeral service in Sacramento on Friday, Brown’s family and friends said goodbye to a victim of a tragic accident believed to be Auburn’s first-ever skateboarding fatality. Auburn Police Sgt. Dale Hutchins, who helped provide traffic control along the busy stretch of Auburn Folsom Road in South Auburn on Thursday, said that all the physical evidence and witness statements gathered so far in the investigation lead police to believe speed wasn’t a factor. The speed limit there is 40 mph. The 19-year-old male driver of the vehicle that collided with Brown and his skateboard is not being identified by police at this time. Hutchins, a 20-year veteran with Auburn Police, said Brown – who was not wearing a helmet – is believed to be Auburn’s first skateboard fatality. “To my memory, this is the first skateboard fatality and hopefully the last,” Hutchins said. “It appears a 19-year-old made a mistake and paid for it with his life. The driver is another 19-year-old man who will be living with this memory the rest of his life.” Witnesses told police that Brown was skateboarding back and forth across both lanes of traffic on the downhill section of Auburn Folsom Road at about 8:40 p.m. and crossed in front of the vehicle that hit him. But Auburn’s Amy and Dave Austin said that Brown was not joy-riding that night. Nick was staying at the couple’s Auburn Folsom Road house on days when he was working at Off Axis, and used his skateboard for transportation around town while he saved money for a car, Amy said. “That particular night, he was going to wait in town until our daughter go off work and picked him up,” Amy Austin said. “He must have decided not to call us for a ride because we had company that night. I’m sure he just decided he could make it on his own.” A memorial fund for Nicholas Brown has been established at Community First Bank. Austin said the fund will be used to help promote skateboard safety awareness. People interested in the fund can contact Dave Austin at (916) 316-6644.