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Skateboarder Killed When He Crashes on Steep Simi Valley Street : Death: Man reportedly had been drinking. Shocked friends say avid athlete ‘always was in total control.’

TIMES STAFF WRITER

An avid Simi Valley skateboarder has died of skull fractures after he sped down a steep rural street, lost control of his board and landed on his head, the Ventura County coroner’s office said Wednesday.

Nicholas Dulcich, 23, apparently had been drinking before he crashed, but blood test results are several weeks away, said coroner’s investigator Craig Stevens.

A passer-by found Dulcich face-down on Flanagan Drive in the city’s Indian Hills subdivision just after midnight on Tuesday morning and called authorities, Stevens said. About 12 hours later, Dulcich died of head injuries in the intensive care unit of Simi Valley Hospital, Stevens said.

“His skateboard was found 66 feet down the hill past him,” he said. “It appears he may have been under the influence of alcohol. . . . Police officers and ambulance personnel noticed the odor of alcohol on him.”

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Close friends said Dulcich was a talented, hard-core surfer and skateboarder who was never reckless, always in control--and that the long, smooth run down Flanagan Drive was one of his favorites.

They said Dulcich had drunk a few beers with them late Monday, but speculated that a rock in the road or a car probably was what caused him to lose control. Police said there was no indication that Dulcich was struck by a car, but friends said an oncoming car may have forced him to stop slaloming and take a faster, more dangerous course straight down the hill.

“I don’t think it had anything to do with alcohol,” said Derek Bauerle, a close friend who said he had known Dulcich since they were both 4 years old. “I can tell you now he’s skated that hill a lot drunker. . . . He was the best on a skateboard out of any of us.”

Dulcich was between jobs, having worked in restaurants, construction and maintenance, friends said. But he lived to surf and skateboard, they said.

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“He could skate better than he could walk,” said Dave Katler, another close friend.

Katler said he and Dulcich left the Tree House Sports Bar and Grill before midnight and spent at least two hours hiking around caves in eastern Simi Valley before he drove Dulcich to the top of one of Indian Hills’ winding streets and dropped him off for the long ride to the bottom.

“I said, ‘Nick, do you want me to follow you home?’ ” Katler recalled. “He said, ‘No, I’m going to take it slow,’ ” because it was only a short distance from the bottom of the hill to his house, Katler said.

“That’s what Nick wanted to do, he wanted to skate that hill,” said Katler. “I’ve dropped him there 100 times.”

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Flanagan Drive descends from the hills at a 10% grade at its steepest, dropping 1 foot for every 10 it moves forward, said Bill Golubics, Simi Valley traffic engineer.

At that angle, the street is steeper than the Ventura Freeway’s 7% slope at the Conejo Grade, but Dulcich’s friends said he had never had trouble skating it before.

“He’s, like, an excellent skateboarder, without a doubt,” said Josh Dodson, another friend and classmate. “Nick always was in total control, and that’s why this was a little weird.”

Dodson said he and his friends had all skated down Flanagan Drive at one time or another.

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“I crashed pretty hard there one time and dislocated my shoulder,” he said. “Nick had never even skinned a knee skateboarding. He was usually just so perfect.”

Dodson said Dulcich “would never do anything stupid. He was always in control of his life. That’s why I don’t understand this. He was never reckless or crazy.”

Since June of last year, at least four skateboarders have died on U. S. streets, all of them hit by cars. In March, 1993, two Southern California children were killed in different accidents when they skated into the paths of cars.

Although skateboard fatalities are rare, 34,938 skateboarders were injured in 1993, according to the Journal of the American Medical Assn.

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Dulcich’s family is greatly upset over the accident, said his brother, Matt. “It’s been a real tragedy for all of us,” he said.

The family has asked that in lieu of flowers, friends may send donations to the Surfrider Foundation, 122 S. El Camino Real, Room 67, San Clemente, CA 92672.


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