Police seek clues in hit-run death of skateboarder
Taunton teen was struck riding along edge of road
TAUNTON - Nicholas Silva-Thomas was just weeks away from getting his driver’s license, but Thursday he was traveling on his preferred mode of transportation, a skateboard.
He went with some friends to Watson Park on the north edge of the city and skated a while in the parking lot. Then they all decided to go to a nearby restaurant for dollar slices of pizza.
But just as they left the park about 9:40 p.m., a car hit Silva-Thomas, leaving him with a severe head injury. Police said the driver fled the scene.
A friend who had been skating next to Silva-Thomas immediately called 911, and when paramedics arrived the 17-year-old, who grew up on Baker Street, had a faint heartbeat, according to family members.
Silva-Thomas was rushed to Morton Hospital, where dozens of his friends, including his girlfriend, showed up. Soon after arriving at the hospital, Silva-Thomas died, according to his family and Taunton police.
“I never knew he had so many friends,’’ said Edwin Carlos, 77, Silva-Thomas’s grandfather. “Everybody is devastated. It’s such a hard thing for all of us to take, and to know that it was done by someone who didn’t stop. Wow, that person has no conscience They should turn themselves in.’’
Witnesses told police the driver of the car apparently turned off its lights as he or she fled, heading north on Bay Street. The accident happened so fast, according to witnesses, that they hardly saw the vehicle.
A woman driving nearby had to swerve to avoid hitting Silva-Thomas as he lay in the street, according to family and police. She hit a guardrail but was not seriously injured.
That portion of Bay Street is two lanes and has no sidewalk, but skateboarders often use the narrow strip of pavement outside the solid white line marking the edge of the two-lane street. Silva-Thomas was not wearing a helmet, according to authorities.
Police are asking for the public’s help in the case.
News of the fatal accident traveled quickly through town, especially among skateboarders and dirt-bike riders.
At Skaters Edge Indoor Skatepark, a large indoor skateboarding and bicycling facility, teens expressed shock that Silva-Thomas had lost his life while doing something they all love.
“Yeah, it’s very sad; I couldn’t believe it when I heard,’’ said 13-year-old Nathan McNielly of Attleboro. He is a regular at the indoor park, which is full of wooden ramps and jumps and handrails and other urban landscape replications.
“In my town, nobody skates anymore because everyone has a car or is being driven,’’ McNielly said. “But when I come here, it’s so different. You get people from all over.’’
Skateboarding reached a peak in the ’70s, but lost popularity in the ’80s and ’90s. But it has made a huge comeback in the past decade, with professional superstars such as Tony Hawk and Ryan Sheckler becoming household names, lending their images to apparel, video games, and other hot-selling items.
“Every year it gets bigger,’’ said Joshua DeCarlo, 30, who has skateboarded for 15 years, honing his skills outside many of the city’s banks. “We used to skate at banks all the time because they have lots of stairs and handrails.’’
DeCarlo worked at Skaters Edge from 2002 through last September. He is now enrolled in college.
“I heard, too, about what happened to that kid,’’ he said. “It’s just sad, that’s all I can say, sad.’’
Silva-Thomas, who had recently dyed his brown hair blond on a bet, would have entered his senior year at Taunton High School in the fall.
He was a member of the wrestling team and worked part time bagging groceries at a local Market Basket.
Carlos, his grandfather, spent endless hours with him, picking him up from school and events, taking him to dentist appointments and fishing trips.
Carlos was preparing to buy him a car, but now he and the rest of the family are making funeral arrangements.
“He was such a good boy, never got into any trouble,’’ said Cheryl Costa, the teenager’s aunt.
Costa owns a hair salon not far from Silva-Thomas’s home. “Here, we always see him walking by with his skateboard and earphones in his ear, listening to music,’’ she said.
“We’d look out the window and wave at him, and he’d wave back with a big smile.’’
Brian Ballou can be reached at email@example.com.