Irvine teen dies following skateboard accident

monoparamedicsOn Monday, September 5 at approximately 11:45 a.m., Mammoth Lakes Police and Mono County Paramedics responded to West Bear Lake Road west of Minaret for an injured skateboarder.  Brett Bertsch, an 18 year old resident of Irvine and his younger brother were riding down West Bear Lake Road when Brett fell, landing on his head.  He was transported by ambulance to Mammoth Hospital and subsequently airlifted to a hospital in Nevada where he succumbed to his injuries.

Bertsch was not wearing a helmet.  Police Chief Dan Watson said, “Although this young man was not legally required to wear a helmet, this tragic incident demonstrates why everyone who rides a bicycle or skateboard should always wear protective equipment, especially a helmet.”


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29 Responses to Irvine teen dies following skateboard accident

  1. k September 9, 2011 at 7:59 pm #

    While it is tragic what happened to this youth, his death underscores the danger of skateboarding on our town’s roads and bike paths – especially without helmets. Numerous times I have seen groups of skateboarders (without helmets and sometimes with a beer in hand) riding down the middle of Lake Mary Rd in the Lakes Basin AND riding down the bike path that runs from Twin Lakes into Town. Not only are they putting their own lives in danger but motorist and bikers and walkers are put in danger by this cazy behavior! And I have witnessed the skateboarders fall right in front of the cars that are following behind them…..I strongly feel that signs prohibiting skateboarding on bike paths and roads need to be added around town AND a public education campaign regarding the right and wrong place to skateboard needs to happen. The skateboard park is GREAT – skate there – with helmets!

    • Wayne Deja September 10, 2011 at 5:39 pm #

      Kinda scary to see what behavior is being allowed to happen up there,from what”k” has stated….and little wonder something like this would happen.Do you mean to tell me rowdy,drunken skateboarders are allowed to travel down the middle of the roads,with beer in hand,and allowed to do so on bike-paths and sidewalks as well? Can only imagine what it must be like to be driving,or walking…or biking in Mammoth Lakes on a busy week-end night.

      • Big AL November 4, 2012 at 8:31 pm #

        Wayne, you sure know how to take a comment and run with it .. one comment about a bee,r occasionally, whether that is true or not, and I am sure it is true that there have been alcohol involved in some instances.

        You turn them into a rowdy bunch of drunken skaters, with beer in hand … up there .. in Mammoth Lakes. Nice going there chief.

  2. Tourbillon September 9, 2011 at 8:32 pm #

    Police Chief Dan Watson said, “Although this young man was not legally required to wear a helmet, this tragic incident demonstrates why everyone who rides a bicycle or skateboard should always wear protective equipment, especially a helmet.”

    Wouldn’t it be fitting, Chief, to let the grief over the tragedy run its course for a few days at least before leaping onto your soapbox to pontificate about it?

    • johndoeml September 9, 2011 at 9:25 pm #

      Reading the article, it sounds like a helmet could have saved this kid’s life. Chief Watson’s recommendation is reasonable and appropriate.

    • Dan Watson September 10, 2011 at 12:05 am #

      That’s a good question, Tourbillon. Anytime something like this happens, it’s a difficult decision about what, if anything, should be released. I initially chose not to issue a news release on this tragic accident until a member of the local media called asking about it. A relative of Mr. Bertsch called the media outlet and asked why it was not reported indicating to me that there was a desire that this be made public. Once one member of the media asks for information about an incident, I believe it important to provide the same information to all local media sources.

      The logical question any reader would have is whether or not he was wearing a helmet. It’s important to provide that information, and I chose to use this tragedy as an opportunity to educate the public in the hopes that perhaps it could prevent another similar tragedy. It was not meant to pontificate, but to educate.

      The need to respect the family has to be weighed against the need to inform and educate the public. It’s a difficult balancing act that I do not take lightly.

    • shelley September 10, 2011 at 9:28 am #

      Hes doing his job. If people would follow the rules then we wouldnt be talking about this. Pretty soon someone will hit one of these kids with a car and it will be our fault. These kids are old enough to understand the rules Im with the chief

      • Big AL November 5, 2012 at 12:28 am #

        These are not all kids .. in fact a fair amount of them are adults. I’m not sure any rules were broken here .. if this is the case, you can be sure that will change very soon, as the tort liability will change that!

    • melanie September 10, 2011 at 4:34 pm #

      his lung was punctured and he stopped breathing. he was pronounced brain dead. I was surfing the web and trying to find information on Brett. My sister was with him when he died. However, its nice to read an ” I told you so” minutes after Bretts death.

  3. bobbie lee swagger September 9, 2011 at 9:18 pm #

    nice neighborhood there west bear lake

  4. Vanessa Hudak September 10, 2011 at 9:23 am #

    Brett was a terrific kid with a great smile and tons of friends. He was so loved and we all miss him terribly. My one hope is that all those who knew him take heed from this tragedy and wear helmets. RIP Brett …..gone too soon.

  5. shelley September 10, 2011 at 9:24 am #

    What a shame. I have to say that Im tired of these kids riding down the middle of the streets darting out in front of cars all summer. Im surprised that a car didnt hit him. We did build an awesome skateboard park for these people.. I suppose thats why its illegal to skateboard in the middle of the street

    • Carveboarder September 13, 2011 at 6:26 pm #


      • Dan Watson September 13, 2011 at 7:44 pm #

        That’s not accurate, Carveboarder. Someone riding a skateboard on the roadway has to follow the same rules as a pedestrian. California Vehicle Code Section 21967 allows local authorities to adopt rules and regulations controlling skateboards on the roadway. This tragedy may provide the incentive for the Town of Mammoth Lakes to consider such a local ordinance.

      • Wayne Deja September 13, 2011 at 7:47 pm #

        Carveboarder…….What planet are you from?….It’s not legal to skateboard…or walk.crawl,run,or anything else on a street or highway…Do you think it’s up to traffic to avoid skateboarders riding down Main Street?…A statement like yours makes all skateboarders look like idiots.

        • Big AL November 5, 2012 at 12:33 am #

          Read what the chief said Wayne.

          • Wayne Deja November 5, 2012 at 1:31 pm #

            Big Al…..This story is from over a year ago….and if I remember right,I stated a comment about IF skateboarders are indeed allowed to ride on the streets of Mammoth Lakes along with vehicles,I think what I said was if a gun was held to my forehead and being forced to spend a day in Mammoth Lakes,if I were traveling down Main Street and a skateboarder pulled out in front of me,and I had a choice to either hit another vehicle head-on,or hit the skateboarder not watching what he was doing,and/or riding recklessly,guess which choice I would be making ?

          • Big AL November 5, 2012 at 11:46 pm #

            Umm .. hit the car head on?

          • Big AL November 6, 2012 at 12:05 am #

            No Wayne, I hope you wouldn’t choose to hit either one .. because either would risk killing or injuring someone.

  6. Amazed in Bishop September 11, 2011 at 9:16 am #

    What a very sad story. I feel so sorry for his family and friends. Whether he was wearing a helmet or not does not take away from the tragedy of life lost. Perhaps the peanut gallery could hold off on the disparaging remarks… just for a little while.

    • Bob Loblaw September 13, 2011 at 8:24 pm #

      So much for holding off…

  7. Big Rick September 11, 2011 at 5:19 pm #

    I know the kids think that wearing a helmet is “not cool”. I ran into a friend of mine at the football game the other night and he was there with his wife and their teenage son, who also was not wearing a helmet when he slipped on his skateboard. It’s a good thing the high school installed ramps for wheelchairs, because my friends son will be in one probably, for the rest of his life. Nothing below the neck but memories. If he had been wearing a helmet…PLEASE KIDS, PLEASE, WEAR A HELMET.

  8. sierragrl September 12, 2011 at 8:01 pm #

    I think people are a bit off base with a lot of the comments here. It’s doubtful this skate boarder was weaving in and out of traffic, since there isn’t any on this road. And I doubt he had a beer in his hand. He was probably on a long board, which doesn’t work at the skate park…yes he should have been wearing a helmet….and that was his only ‘crime’ for which he paid for it with his life…Teenage boys in particular think they are invincible….They don’t realize how easily one little thing can go wrong and cause catastrophic results. Talk about learning the hard way

    • Doug November 4, 2012 at 1:04 pm #

      Brett wasn’t weaving in & out of traffic. He didn’t have anything in his hand. He was on a long board. He & his brother were skating down the side of the street, going to meet with their dad at the bottom of the hill. He was a good kid. He was my nephew. We miss him very much.
      Thank you for your kind words.

      • Big AL November 5, 2012 at 1:01 am #

        Doug .. God bless you all .. you are in my prayers …

    • Big AL November 5, 2012 at 12:58 am #

      yes sierragrl. It’s sad .. I can relate to being young once and thinking I was superman. All the years of riding bikes .. I never rode, and still do not ride them without a helmet, and a helmet saved my life once.

      Crashed at the bottom of a steep hill, went headlong into the pavement of a road way, over the handle bars, slammed my head and shoulder. Crushed the liner of my helmet, didn’t crack it, I had one hell of a head ache when I woke up .. it left me with a black eye and a bruised face, and a jacked up shoulder.

      I don’t know how long I lay there in the road way until someone found me, but I am alive because of that helmet. I see my son and my nephew and other young guys do the same thing on BMX bikes and skate boards without helmets. I just pray .. and in cases like this, it doesn’t not work out.

  9. Vanessa September 13, 2011 at 11:48 am #

    Brett’s major mode of transportation, like most in SoCal, was his longboard. You are correct. He also was with his younger brother and it was early in the day and he was on a trip with his dad – not drinking. He had just commented an hour earlier on his facebook how clean the air is in Mammoth and was just enjoying life. I see 100’s of kids and adults using their skateboards to get around. I also see many adults riding bikes without helmets. Does this mean they deserve to die? This was an accident that could have happened to anyone. Breet touched hundreds of lives and so many are grieving for him. Please try and be sensitive.

  10. k September 13, 2011 at 9:00 pm #

    There is such sadness regarding this news story. At the same time, I think it is important to realize it is just that – a news story – written to inform the public about an event (a very sad one) that took place on a street in the Town of Mammoth Lakes. This news story is not however an obituary for the youth that died. Therefore, comments and opinions about skateboarding that are appearing in the reply section are spot-on regarding issues that do exist on the Town’s streets, sidewalks and bike paths. At no such time did anyone, including myself, imply that the youth that died was drinking. – But it was reported that he was riding in the street and whether he was on a long board or not, he was not wearing a helmet and that fact resulted in his untimely death. I am sorry for his friends and family’s loss and I hope that they are comforted by all that are close. Please, to all skateboarder out there….please do not put others or yourself in danger while you are out there enjoying your ride. It’s a fun sport and mode of transportation – but not without risk. And I am hopeful that the Town can look into ways to keep skateboarders and those traveling near them safer.

    • Big AL November 5, 2012 at 11:55 pm #

      Yes I agree k ..


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