Reno, NV - A 13-year-old Sparks boy is in the intensive care unit of Renown with brain damage and skull fractures, after getting hit by an SUV while riding his bike. The teen was not wearing a helmet. That decision not only changed his family's life, but his friends' everyday habits.
"It's scary to just get out on my bike or skateboard now because of what happened to him," says Skyler Caudill. The 13-year-old is talking about his friend, Ben Walsh, who was hit by an SUV on August 6th. Ben was riding his bike, but wasn't wearing a helmet. Now that Ben's in the ICU of Renown with brain damage, he won't be joining his close group of friends at Yvonne Shaw Middle School this year.
"It sucks because now I know he won't be able to play football with us," says Chance Cottle, who played football with Ben. "And it sucks what happened to him."
Ben's mother says the bike accident changed her boy's life.
"They crossed in front of traffic and he wasn't wearing a helmet," says Kolleen Walsh. "And he got dragged 15 feet."
"Most kids think that if you wear a helmet, you're uncool," says Noah Flint, a 12-year-old who is good friends with Ben.
Ben's mother says that's why her son didn't wear his helmets. She had bought him two, and insisted he wear them, but he didn't listen and ended up selling them.
We spotted several kids skateboarding and biking at Mira Loma skate park in Reno without helmets.
"Here at Renown, I can tell you that we probably see about 15 to 20 kids per summer season that have significant head injuries from not wearing a helmet," says Alannah Manfredi, the program coordinator of Kohl's Save Your Skull. "That's just too many."
Ben's friends say they didn't wear helmets before, but now, they're convinced it's a no-brainer. And they're urging other kids to do the same.
"I want the parents to make sure their kids are wearing helmets... It can save your life," says Skyler Caudill. "He's in the hospital right now and it's really scary."
Doctors are still monitoring Ben and don't know how permanent his brain damage will be.
All of the hospital bills are taking a toll on his family and a fund has been set up for him at Wells Fargo Bank:
Wells Fargo Bank
Account Number: 5359542098
Fundraiser for Ben Walsh:
8am - 5pm
Cars Wash and Bake Sale
Save Mart in Spanish Springs
For more information on Kohl's Save Your Skull Program: