RALEIGH — Last Sunday, 15-year-old Ryan Profet went skateboarding with his friends. He hit something on the road, and crashed. The Profets had to bury their son, and they are vowing not to let this happen to someone else's child.
Skateboarders like to be known as risk-takers. They're into their sport for the thrill of it. But along with the thrills come spills. And most of those skateboarders don't wear helmets. Now the parents of Ryan Profet hope to change that.
"He was a nice kid," Ryan's father, Gary, explains. "The last couple of years he was a teenager, and he was a rebel and had figured out that we couldn't make him do anything."
That includes wearing a helmet when he skated. On Monday, Ryan Profet died of a massive head injury he suffered in a skateboarding accident.
Ryan's friend, Nichole Mills, says Ryan hit a rock, flew through the air and landed on his head.
Gary and Debby Profet believe their son would be alive if he had only worn a helmet that day. They're hoping other kids will learn from Ryan's mistake.
"To other kids, I would say buy a helmet," says Ryan's mother, Debby. "Wear the helmet. But I also know they're not going to do that."
The Profets place part of the blame on the skateboarding industry, an industry they say rarely promotes helmets for skateboarders.
Endless Grind, a "To other kids, I would skateboarding store in Raleigh, sells helmets. But an employee says while many skaters buy them, most don't usually wear them because they get in the way and are often a hassle to deal with.
Friends of Ryan Profet now say it's worth the hassle to save a life.
"All of us who are friends have decided no skateboard riding, no motorcycle riding without helmet because it wasn't fair what happened to Ryan," Nichole says, "and we don't want it to happen to us."
Ryan's mother is certain her son would be skating today if he'd been wearing a helmet: All it took was one time, and if he had had a helmet on, we truly believe he'd be out there skateboarding right now-- in the rain.
While helmets may not be foolproof, Ryan's doctor agrees Ryan would probably be home today if he had been wearing a helmet last Sunday.