We quizzed local officials: Do kids need to wear helmets?

Go to any park with skateboard facilities and you'll see plenty of kids without helmets, just like the 12-year-old boy seriously injured in a skateboarding accident on Saturday at a state park in Estacada.

Oregon law says kids 15 and under must wear helmets on bikes, scooters, and skateboards in public places.

The law is hardly ever enforced and many officials in charge of public parks do not even know it exists.

"It's not Oregon law to be required to wear a helmet, but it's recommended," said Garrett Rodgers, the skateboarding instructor at the Tualatin Hills Recreation Center.

Simply put, that's wrong.

"Oh, I had no idea," said Rodgers, who admitted he's never heard of the law.

Even the signs posted by the Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation District are wrong. They say
helmets are "highly recommended."

A similar sign listing the rules at a skate park in Oregon City also says helmets are "highly recommended."

The city's community services director, Scott Archer, who is in charge of Oregon City's parks, admitted by phone on Monday that he was not sure if the state's helmet law applied to Oregon City's parks. (For the record: it does.)

A staff member at the city of Hillsboro's parks department also flunked our pop quiz, saying on the phone helmets are not required there, either.

Portland Parks and Recreation passed our helmet law quiz when Mark Ross, the bureau's spokesman, said state law requires helmets in Portland skate parks.

A spokesman for the city of Gresham's parks also correctly said kids 15 and under must wear helmets.

But the message didn't get to Gresham's web designers; a picture on a skate park website prominently shows a young boy skating without a helmet.

The legislature set the fine for violating the law at $25.

How would an 11-year-old be forced to pay? Well, we don't know.

There are no known cases of enforcement, according to Oregon State Police and Portland Parks and Recreation.

Instead, officials say, park staff who happen to be aware of the law usually talk to the kid or their parents.