Emily Mitchell. Reported by Idelle Davidson/Los Angeles and Unda Williams/New York
Whiz! Zoom! Crash! Ouch!
A speedy sport takes a brisk and painful toll
Here they come, whizzing along city streets and suburban roadways by the
thousands. Then watch out, there they go, down on the pavement, writhing in pain. This
year about 1 million people-twice as many as last year-are dashing around on
"in-line" blades, the ice skates on wheels, and casualties are mounting. Health
officials, roller buffs and the $150 million industry are growing concerned at the rising
number of fractures, sprains and contusions as throngs of wobbly tyros fasten on the
high-speed, tricky devices.
On one recent weekend, New York City's Lenox Hill Hospital treated 17 bladers for
injuries. On the West Coast, about a dozen in-line skaters show up at the Santa Monica
Hospital emergency room every weekend, and in San Francisco, David Miles, who coordinates
Golden Gate Park's roller-skating patrol, says that up to 15 skaters are hurt each day.
Wherever the accidents occur, the injury list is the same: fractures of the wrists and
elbows and badly banged-up knees and ankles. Overall, estimates Manhattan orthopedic
surgeon Dr. Pierce Ferriter, "we're seeing 10 times the number we saw last
Down and out in
Manhattan's Central Park