Three Skull Fractures from Scooter Crashes in Less Than One Week in San Diego

by on August 6, 2019 · 30 comments

in Ocean Beach, San Diego

Karen Riggott fighting for her life; she was injured Saturday, Aug. 3 in Point Loma. Screen grab from Fox5.

San Diego is certainly racking them up.

In less than one week, there’s been 3 skull fractures from electric scooter crashes, including a very tragic one in Point Loma last weekend.

There was one last night, Monday, August 5, around 9:10 pm when a 35-year old man fell off and crashed his scooter downtown near the intersection First Avenue and C Street. It’s unclear why he fell off the vehicle while riding north on First but he struck his head and was admitted to a local hospital for treatment of a fractured skull and a brain bleed. His injuries are not believed to be life-threatening. He remains hospitalized Tuesday.

Another occurred about 8:30 pm Sunday night when a 25-year-old man was riding on the north sidewalk of G Street between 10th and 11th streets in East Village when he lost control of the scooter. He suffered serious head injuries in the subsequent crash and was taken to a hospital for treatment of a fractured skull, a fractured orbital and a brain bleed – not thought to be life-threatening.

Yet – on Saturday morning in Roseville of Point Loma – a woman was so seriously injured in a scooter crash that she’s fighting for her life.

50-year-old Karen Riggott was on Historic Decatur Road around 9:45 a.m. Saturday when either her purse got caught in the handlebars or she took a hand off the handlebars. At any rate, she lost control and crashed. Her husband, Dean – who was a witness to her accident – said as soon as she took her hand off the handlebars, “that thing just flipped inside.”

He told Fox5:

“The minute it curled in, she came off it and she hit her head and bounced up for a moment. Then she just lay flat. I ran as fast as I could to get to her because I knew immediately something was wrong, because there was no movement.”

Karen Riggott was taken to UC San Diego Medical Center in Hillcrest and treated for a brain bleed and multiple skull fractures. Her husband says he is hoping she’ll pull through.

Scooter accidents can indeed be fatal. In March of this year a 53-year-old man died in a scooter crash when he lost control of the scooter and suffered serious head injuries.








{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

Jeremy August 6, 2019 at 11:26 am

Now do cars.


Frank Gormlie August 6, 2019 at 12:15 pm

Seriously? You’re equating the wild west of scooters – where you can ride without helmets or worries – with autos? Where we have seat beats, and many safety devices worked out over the last 100 years. That’s childish.


Robert Burns August 7, 2019 at 9:46 pm

I agree with Frank. Cars also have warranties something that has become diluted and endangered by BigTech starting with M$ who feel superior to the usual monopolists. The e-trash industry avoids responsibility at all costs.


Real Creature August 7, 2019 at 12:39 pm

I agree. Cars went through this negative publicity stage when they were becoming popular and affordable. Cars continue to be the most deadly form of transportation, even with most transportation infrastructure now being designed around car safety. Somehow the Keystone Cops continue to be in charge of all street and highway design – there is zero improvement over many decades.


Geoff Page August 7, 2019 at 12:46 pm

What you just described is the crux of the problem, Real. It’s not the equipment, it’s people. The road is full of idiot drivers and that problem has gotten worse over the years because cars are so well made now. They are more maneuverable, they brake better, the bodies are fortified, they are much faster off the line and accelerate much better, and there are air bags everywhere. Because they perform so well now, idiots take even more chances with cars when driving. Find a solution for human nature and you’ll solve the scooter problem too.


ZZ August 6, 2019 at 12:22 pm

Yes, you can’t equate them. Auto accidents kill 37,461 Americans per year (2016 total). E-Scooters… maybe 3 or 4.


Geoff Page August 6, 2019 at 12:58 pm

Call me dense, but aren’t there like millions and millions more cars than there are electric scooters?


ZZ August 6, 2019 at 1:22 pm

I agree, statistics are more useful than anecdotes. Planes and trains sometimes crash and kill people, but they overall save lives due to being safer than cars.

Cars also don’t have to crash to kill people, the air pollution they produce causes death from heart and respiratory diseases.


Robert Burns August 7, 2019 at 9:48 pm

Oh, like the tech trash Boeing 737 Max?


Vern August 6, 2019 at 1:18 pm

Very sad.
Saw a near miss yesterday afternoon. Two adult males zipping northbound on Catalina (on the relatively narrow sidewalk, no less) , went right across an alley (south of Tennyson), a car popped out. It was close. The two scooter kooks never stopped, kept giggling (yep, you could hear it) and scootering.


Rufus August 7, 2019 at 3:57 am

Don’t care about the injuries and deaths as long as we make our climate action plan goals, say the politicians under their breath.

Seriously, this is what happens when government allows an unregulated public utility like these e-scooters businesses to open up shop (and make a ton of dough) without forethought or public participation and then that same government looks the other as the body count stacks up because, well you know bro, e-scooters will help us with our CAP compliance.

It doesn’t have to be either/or. You can have the environmental benefits of e-scooters and a safe e-scooter and pedestrian experience. It just takes a little bit of hard work on the part of the industry and government.

The injured and dead are simply unintended consequences when politicians do what feels good and what’s popular, instead of doing what’s right.


Peter from South O August 7, 2019 at 4:37 am

There has been a lot of TV news coverage of the scooter issue lately, most reporters posed in front of scooter traffic. It struck me that Barbara Bry could take the videos and construct a great case that enforcement is not happening.
In one minute-long spot an adult female rode by with an 8 to 10 year old child on board, a pack of three rode by abreast, with a couple of crossing pedestrians having to dart backwards to avoid being hit, and one hot-dogger went by weaving from side to side taking up the whole side.
It was an anti-scooter political spot already produced!
Aside from the public safety issue it is important to remember that the value of these things from a green perspective is subject to debate. The consensus is that there is not yet enough data to calculate the actual impact on the environment. Issues such as the vehicle emissions from the recharge pick-up fleets, lifetime of the equipment vs. production related emissions, and disposal of junk scooters are hard to pin down with only a few years of fragmentary data. Add to that the requirement for the scooter companies to have a fleet to respond to the complaints and the whole scheme being presented as a green alternative starts to look like a scam.
Oh, and people are falling on their heads and dying. THAT data is accumulating fast.
The solution to the last 1/4 mile ‘problem’ is to walk.


Lyle August 7, 2019 at 7:51 am

Good points, Peter. Should the city and/or Bird be required to submit a CEQA analysis prior to issuing a permit ?


Peter from South O August 7, 2019 at 10:49 am

That would be addressed by legal action (there is no State enforcement dealing with IF the Act applies in a certain situation) which would be complicated by the lack of accumulated data. San Diego is not going to solve this problem alone. It is a National problem which should fall under the NTSB’s rule-making tent.


Geoff Page August 7, 2019 at 10:03 am

Walking, Peter?! But, but, but, that requires effort and where is the money in that?


Real Creature August 7, 2019 at 12:24 pm


I suppose there are a lot of bicycle accidents that don’t get any publicity, or even put in a police report, depending on circumstances. Scooters are a nuisance to many, especially when they’re in the way, and that’s why the publicity. THE CITY SHOULD DEFINITELY LIMIT SCOOTER SPEEDS WHENEVER NEAR PEDESTRIANS, BUT ALSO REDUCE SPEEDS OVERALL SINCE MOST OF THOSE INJURED APPEAR TO BE INEXPERIENCED OR INTOXICATED OR BOTH. It is pretty cool that due to better batteries we are gifted with cool things like electric cars, bikes, scooters and drones, etc.


Frank Gormlie August 7, 2019 at 12:40 pm

In the future, please refrain from using all caps, please.


retired botanist August 7, 2019 at 2:50 pm

Sooooo, what do you think the carbon footprint of all those batteries is?


ZZ August 7, 2019 at 3:41 pm

From the Union of Concerned Scientists, 2015:

“We found that battery electric cars generate half the emissions of the average comparable gasoline car, even when pollution from battery manufacturing is accounted for.”

This understates the situation now here because:
1 California has a cleaner than average electricity mix;

2 in additional to the regional advantage, the grid has also gotten cleaner over the past 4 years due to the move away from coal and toward solar/wind;

3 battery tech has improved, the same battery size/weight now has more juice and also lasts longer.

Of course gas cars have improved a little too, a larger share now use more efficient turbo engines than 2015 for example. But the pace of change in gas powered cars is much slower than the positive changes in battery tech and the electric grid.


Peter from South O August 8, 2019 at 3:13 am

Not cars, ZZ, scooters. Focus!


retired botanist August 7, 2019 at 5:14 pm

Ok, ok, ok, I’m all about the transition away from fossil fuels, guys. I get that. But what I’m harking back to is Geoff’s comment. Seriously, these scooters are about as useful as jet skis (gas fuel?), snow mobiles (gas fuel?) and other TOYS. Most things have a function SOMEWHERE, like even bottled water (ugh) in disaster scenarios. But I simply cannot see this new toy, and its incredible environmental impact (sorry, but if this is meant to be replacing cars than that is either just plain green-washing, or people need to seriously re-evaluate their need to get in a car) as a way forward in climate change and the necessary lifestyle changes we all need to make.
You want to make the argument about the improved efficiency and offset of electric vs. fossil?! The “function and service”, which is how environmentalists define value, of these scooter vehicles, does not even BEGIN to offset their manufacture, marketing, clean-up, and a host of other parameters compared to an ordinary bike or a pair of legs.
Sorry, not sorry!


Vern August 7, 2019 at 8:50 pm


to make matters worse, all those rental e-scooters, lying around sidewalks, curbs parkways and streets, are filthy… they’re never cleaned.


ZZ August 7, 2019 at 8:46 pm

RB, the movement away from cars is going to require a lot of different fronts. For some people, it isn’t even going to be getting rid of their cars at all, but simply having a 2-car family become a 1-car family.

Uber, because it is a million times more convenient, safer, and nicer than a taxi, and 25-60% cheaper, has made being car-less more practical.

However, how about for a trip to a friend who is 0.75 or 1.2 miles away? Taking an Uber that distance is going to still be $6-8 bucks each way, and drivers usually aren’t too thrilled about such a small fare. Sure, you could walk, but that’s 30-40 minutes roundtrip at a brisk pace. Sometimes people are up for such a walk, other times they aren’t. And other times they don’t have so much time.

Scooters can fill those sorts of gaps. They aren’t for .25 mile trips really, more for mid-range ones a little longer than that. While they go up to 12 or 14 MPH depending on the model and if there is an internal speed limit, 8 or 9mph is more realistic, about 3 times faster than walking.

What about a bike? Well, I love biking. Not everyone does. And if you don’t ride all the time, this may involve checking and pumping the tires, making sure the headlight has good batteries, hauling it up and down stairs, finding a place to lock it and hoping it is safe….

It ends up not being much faster than walking unless you ride all the time and have a good spot for it.

There is also an income issue involved. If you are a working class person in a tight apartment, you might have very limited indoor space to call your own, and no secure locked outdoor area for a bike. This is exactly how my first place in OB was: 350 sq feet inside, and a tiny yard that wasn’t fully fenced. I did have a bike which i kept locked in the little yard… and that worked for about 2 years until someone cut the lock chain. And my place was pretty midrange for the beach area, lots of people with zero yard space and even less indoor space.

No, e-scooters do not solve every possible transportation problem. But they are clearly part of the solution. And god forbid, they are fun and make a lot of people happy.


Geoff Page August 8, 2019 at 1:04 pm

Very well put, ZZ. I personally would be fine with them if people would just stop parking them in the middle of sidewalks.


Tyler August 8, 2019 at 12:58 pm

The idiots that are injuring themselves on scooters are the same people who are idiots when driving cars. It’s the operator, not necessarily the product. At least on scooters they can’t endanger others nearly as much as if they were in a vehicle.

Now that there is proper protocol for where these scooters should be parked (and it should be very much enforced), I really don’t understand how anyone can be up in arms about these things beyond just being a curmudgeon who is cherry picking data to further an agenda that these things are “scary.”


Geoff Page August 8, 2019 at 1:09 pm

There’s the rub, Tyler. Will they use the corrals and stop leaving them on sidewalks? I came across one parked on the new dirt highway they created at Sunset Cliffs formerly “Natural” Park. I have a pretty good eye for measurement and that scooter was dead center in the road all by itself. It’s a wide road, it could easily have been put off to one side but it was as if the idiot measured the road and purposely placed it exactly in the middle. If this behavior is solved, I have no problem with the scooters. The city should be getting money from all this, too.


Tyler August 9, 2019 at 11:48 am

Totally agree that enforcement needs to step up and there are still plenty of people not following the new law. Fines should be levied on the companies as there is no way for the government to hold the rider responsible other than catching them in the act. They should have workers driving around to patrol this (or scootering around?).

I will say Bird seems to be flaunting the law a bit. The two corrals at the Brighton/Abbott intersection yesterday were filled to the brim with Bird scooters as close together as possible (probably ~20 in each corral). There is no effective was for someone to grab one without causing a domino effect which makes all of them topple over. And that’s exactly how they looked this morning when I walked by. Pretty sure the law states they can only have 4-5 per company per corral anyway? Again, better enforcement needed or this will not work.


Dean Riggott August 24, 2019 at 9:47 am

Many have you have very valid points here. Unfortunately as I sit here by my wife’s bedside and relived the horrifying events of that morning for the news, radio, friends and city leaders I have plenty of time to think of it all. We are now in our 3rd week of my wife’s fight and mine to bring awareness of the truer damage of these thing in their current incarnation. So often I hear and read about the deaths statistics and only the death statistics, what’s not being talked about is the rate these things are causing irreparable damage to homes and families. They aren’t saying that in the 15 months or UCSD sees traumatic injuries at a rate of 10-12 a month…that’s potentially 10-12 of my wife coming in and fighting for their life monthly! This is one hospital and doesn’t include the hundreds of broken bones. Todd Gloria compared this to the car as well and I found that short sighted. Cars don’t kill you if you take your hand off the well, car tires have always been able to go over pot holes and ruts without slamming your head to the pavement and breaking the bones in your face. My wife did in fact move her right hand briefly away from the right side of the handlebar in making an adjustment, the handlebar immediately clipped left and the scooter whipped her with such a ferocity that landed only on the back of her head and yet fracture her skull in so many places all the way to the front of her face! Imagine the force of that impact. I couldn’t until now. Like a car? Not so much. Take the demographics of these scooter in their small bubble versus the millions of cars on the road and you quickly find out by percentages and newness these things are outpacing motorcycles and cars in the rate of injuries they inflict. You can argue rider error, by I would based on design and availability the scooter has become the bigger symptom of much larger pain problem than so many know or are willing to admit. I wish I knew what I know now, 3 weeks ago. My wife’s life or our home wouldn’t have been worth the risk.


Bob Edwards August 24, 2019 at 3:39 pm

So sorry to hear about your wife’s injury and all that she and your family are going through. Thanks for sharing the painful story. Hopefully others will learn from your comment. Take care.


Dean Riggott August 25, 2019 at 1:34 pm

Thank you for your kind words.
All I can do at this point is hope people can learn from some of what I have learned and hope to share an effective manner so others do not suffer this pain.

It was definitely avoidable if those in the positions of keeping us safe talked more about the truer issue versus painting little white boxes on the street to market these things to The unsuspecting, such as my wife and I. I always figured if your talking about a problem that’s killing and maiming people nationwide at the rate these vehicles are….its a problem. The problem is now, that so many more will continue to be test dummies while they continue to talk about it….already had a couple more show up here at UCSD Medical Center since we arrived.

Thank you again for keeping it kind.


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