SAN FRANCISCO — A well-known San Francisco skateboarder remains in the hospital Friday night after a daredevil stunt near Mission Dolores Park last week went horribly wrong.
For many skateboarders, the siren song of San Francisco’s towering hills cannot be ignored.
Last Thursday, on the edge of Mission Dolores Park, Dolores Street was the site of a popular “hill bombing” event, where skateboarders on their decks — four tiny wheels mounted on metal trucks — take on the grades that make San Francisco world famous.
Among those skateboarders was 21-year-old Tomoko Oikawa. On her last ride of the night, the skater took a nasty spill on the unforgiving asphalt.
“She might’ve been clipped by someone. Maybe even her trucks got loose, and she unfortunately took a really hard fall and fractured her skull,” her sister Shizuka Oikawa-Fung told KPIX 5. “The back of her skull, which is the strongest bone in your body, and [she] sustained several injuries to her brain; a lot of swelling.”
Tomo, as she’s known, had emergency surgery Friday to relieve the swelling in her brain. While she’s still in a dangerous window, she is a awake and responding to touch and light.
“She’s conscious. However, she’s not able to speak or anything like that. She just rests,” said Oikawa-Fung.
She said watching her baby sister recover is excruciating.
“It’s very hard. I try to be strong. We all are. We’re all doing our best, but it’s my baby sister,” explained Oikawa-Fung. “And she’s so strong and and independent. Seeing her so helpless in bed, hair all gone and tubes and machines everywhere, it’s really daunting. It’s really daunting.”
Tomo started skating when she was still in elementary school, following in the footsteps of another sister.
Tomo has turned her passion for skateboarding into a living and shared it with others. She runs the Tomo Skate Co., making custom skateboard grips. She has also built skateboard ramps and taught kids in her mom’s hometown in the Philippines to skate.
“We know that it’s a risk that we take everyday for our live. I do hope — and I’m not trying to use Tomoko’s platform as a way to educate — I do hope that skaters out there are a little bit safer,” said Oikawa-Fung. “Just one little slip up can change your entire life.”
The skateboarding community has started a GoFundMe campaign to help pay for Tomoko’s care and recovery from her injuries. As of Friday evening, the campaign had raised over $17,000 towards a goal of $50,000.