A freak rollerblade accident led to the death of a Columbia man after he lost control while skating on a rain-slicked bike path in the Village of Owen Brown.
Tim Reed, 34, a field engineer for Sopha Medical in Columbia, was skating with his two sons at about 12:30 p.m. Sunday near his home in Owen Brown when the accident occurred.
Mr. Reed was rolling down a hill on Setting Star that dropped quickly and included a sharp turn when he lost control and grabbed a tree to stop, said his wife, Shari Lynn Reed. The skates went out from under him and Mr. Reed's head struck either a tree trunk or a rock, she said.
Mr. Reed of Seedling Lane suffered a fractured skull and died Sunday night at the Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore, a hospital spokeswoman said.
"A neurologist said we wouldn't be here [at the hospital] had he worn a helmet," Mrs. Reed said. The couple's two sons, Mike and David, both were wearing helmets while skating Sunday, she said.
A memorial mass attended by 150 people was held Tuesday afternoon at St. Louis Catholic Church in Clarksville.
At the wooded bike path yesterday, Mrs. Reed pointed to where her husband fell and said Sunday marked his first time on that particular path.
Mr. Reed had received the $189 black rollerblades in July as a 34th birthday gift from his family.
"He was excited," said his wife of 13 years. "He really wanted them for the exercise."
She said it also allowed him to join his rollerblading friends and sons in the sport.
Enthusiasm for rollerblading hit the East Coast about two years ago, and has become a popular sport on the area's smooth sidewalks and bike paths.
Keith Sill, manager of Princeton's Sports store in Columbia, said his store has sold thousands of dollars in rollerblade skates and equipment this summer, and the store's entire supply of rental skates is typically snapped up each weekend at $25 a pair.
Rollerblade skaters are advised to wear helmets, wrist guards and knee and elbow pads to guard against injuries, he said.
The sport is riskier in inclement weather, when it is easy to slip and fall, he said.
When Mr. Reed and his sons left home Sunday it wasn't raining, so they didn't take shoes to put on in the event of rain, Mrs. Reed said.
Yesterday, Mrs. Reed suggested that the county consider requiring helmets for skaters just as it does for bicyclists.
She added that if warning signs were posted along bike paths they might prevent more accidents by alerting skaters and cyclists of steepness and sharp turns ahead.
Her husband, she said, was unaware of the hills and curves on the bike path on Setting Star.
"He never would have taken the kids somewhere where it might hurt them," Mrs. Reed said.