Memorial service set for Ian Kortbek


The following was printed in the November 2, 2002 edition of the Block Island Times.

A memorial service will be held Sunday morning, Nov. 3, for Ian Kortbek, who died following an accident on Corn Neck Road late Friday, Oct. 25.

The service is scheduled for 10 a.m. at the site of the future skateboard park in Ball-O'Brien Park. Kortbek, 18, a 2002 graduate of Block Island High School, was instrumental in organizing the young people of Block Island and arousing community interest in establishing a skate park.

Following the service, friends may gather at the Narragansett Inn at 11 a.m. Cynthia Rabey, Kortbek's mother, asked that in lieu of flowers, contributions be made to the Ian Kortbek Memorial Fund for the Block Island Skate Park, care of Washinton Trust Co., P.O. Box 217, Block Island, RI. 02807.

Plans are underway to name the skate park in his honor.

Kortbek passed away late Wednesday. His organs were donated, "a gift of life to people in need," his mother said.

Kortbek sustained serious head injuries in the accident that occurred when a 17-year-old Block Island resident driving a car full of passengers tried to pass another vehicle and lost control last Friday, Oct. 25.

Ian Kortbek was riding in the front passenger seat. The driver and one other passenger were treated for minor injuries; two other passengers were unhurt, police said. All the occupants except Kortbek are students at Block Island School.

Police Chief William McCombe said the car veered off Corn Neck Road just north of Beach Avenue at about 10:30 p.m. The left front side of the care hit a utility pole, then the car spun and overturned, according to McCombe.

Kortbek was taken from the scene to the airport and flown by helicopter to the William W. Backus Hospital in Norwich, Conn., where he was placed on life support until he died.

Kortbek, who was riding in the front passenger seat, was not wearing his seat belt, McCombe said. The driver and one of the other juveniles were, he added.

McCombe said a juvenile came to the police station at 10:43 p.m. to report the accident; the police, fire and rescue squad responded, he said, and Dr. Peter Baute from the Medical Center was at the scene.

They found that the able-bodied occupants had gotten out of the car and had pulled Kortbek out, he said.

McCombe said the accident happened as the car was attempting to pass another vehicle on a slight curve. His preliminary judgment was that the cause of the accident was "excessive speed, driver inexperience and poor judgment."

The car, a 1986 Plymouth Aries, was registered to Kortbek's mother, the chief said.

Police gave the driver a breathalyzer test and "it came up all zeroes," McCombe said.

"They were just hanging out on a Friday night and decided to go for a ride," McCombe said. "They told me that Ian said he'd been drinking and asked one of the boys to drive."

A three-person accident reconstruction team from the Narragansett Police Department came to the island Tuesday to study the incident. "They have the capacity to judge the actual speed from the terrain, the skid marks and the car damage," McCombe said. The Narragansett Police Department offers the service as a form of mutual assistance, the chief explained.

McCombe will combine the team's report with his own department's findings and forward the complete report to the state attorney general's office, which will consider whether to file charges against the driver, he said.

Skate park memorial

Kortbek and Eddie Stover started pushing the idea of a skateboard park in the spring of 2000, appearing before town boards and community organizations to plead their case. Gradually they garnered support; the Lions Club took it up as a club project; money was raised and the Ball-O'Brien Park was identified as the best site.

The preliminary studies and engineering work have been completed and the only remaining procedural barrier is to obtain a special use permit. The Zoning Board opened a hearing on the application at its meeting Monday and took testimony from a number of youths, but did not have time to complete the hearing and adjourned it to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 5.

On hearing of Kortbek's accident, Stover, now a sophomore at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y., e-mailed friends and proposed that the skate park be named in Kortbek's honor, according to Mary Stover, Eddie's mother. The idea met instant acceptance, she said, and a request to the Town Council to that effect is planned.

"I think it would be entirely appropriate if the young people were to install a plaque to be dedicated to his memory," said Ray Torrey, who has headed the skate park project for the Lions Club.

Kortbek was a member of title-winning basketball and soccer teams at the school. "What I noticed about Ian was that the younger children loved him; he would spend a lot of time with them," said Scott Comings of The Nature Conservancy, assistant basketball coach and instructor in environmental studies.

Kortbek's father, Jens, is a Danish citizen and businessman. Young Kortbek had planned to join his father in Denmark this fall, Stover said.


The Ian Kortbek Memorial Skatepark


The following is a letter that Ian Kortbek and myself wrote the Block Island Times way back in June of 2000, enjoy:

Dear Recreation Board members, town officials, and citizens of Block Island;

Skateboarding on Block Island has grown exponentially in recent years, and shows no sign of slowing down. But, it’s clear that the skateboarders, rollerbladers and freestyle bikers need more room than is presently available in town.

On many occasions while skateboarding, my friends and I have faced many difficulties. We have been escorted off parking lots by store owners and almost hit by cars when skateboarding on the street and asked by business owners not to skateboard near their shops.

This was not a problem in the past, but the number of people participating in skateboarding has grown larger than these owners are comfortable dealing with.

Most recently, Block Island police officers have told skaters that they are no longer allowed to skate around the town. They have been giving numerous warnings, but now are threatening to take away our skateboards. As these examples show, there is a real need for action and the skaters of Block Island have a great solution.

We propose that the town build a skate park; a place where skateboarders, rollerbladers, bikers and anyone else can practice what they love to do in a safe place, without bothering anyone else.

This idea is not as far out as you might first think. Towns all through this state have come to a similar solution. We have been passing out a petition all over town and have signatures from skaters, parents, local authorities and store owners who also agree that a skatepark is the best solution. The building of a skatepark will not only benefit the people who will use the park, but the town as a whole will also benefit tremendously. Kids will have a great place to go and have fun.

Instead of having to resort to drug use, these kids now have a place to go. Local businesses will not have to worry as much about what they think is a problem of vandalization. If the town builds a really great skatepark, people will travel to our town just to skate at the park. It’ll give good publicity to the town!

I know that a skatepark would be perfect. I want to ask the town if they can have a designated area put together immediately where safe, legal skateboarding can occur. There is no reason why this should wait; action should be taken right away. Thank you.

Eddie Stover
Center Road

Ian Kortbek
West Side Road

I remeber writting this letter like it was yesterday, it's hard to believe it was 6 years ago.
I can't wait till the warm weather hits the Island and the sunset skate sessions are back.


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