New state law inspired by skateboarding death of Ledyard teen

LEDYARD - Among the new state laws that take affect on October 1, one is inspired by a skateboarding accident that killed a 14-year-old Ledyard boy nearly two years ago.

Holly Irwin, the mother who pushed for a new helmet law, said at a press conference Monday, outside the Ledyard Police Department, that she is thrilled to have the opportunity to keep Connecticut children safe. Her only wish is that she could hug her son instead.

For Conor Irwin’s 14th birthday he got his first skateboard, after consulting a store clerk

“We talked about what size board, what size the wheels would be best for a beginner, but what didn’t come up was a conversation about a helmet,” said Holly Irwin, Conor Irwin’s mother.

In October of 2016, about six months after receiving the skateboard, Conor Irwin asked for a helmet.

“And then he said, ‘mom it will be expensive.’ So, it was the end of October and I said ‘well then put it on your Christmas list,’” Holly Irwin said.

A request she said she regretted.

“Worst mistake I ever made,” she said, weeping during the press conference.

The day after Thanksgiving, in 2016, Conor went out to ride his skateboard without a helmet when he fell, banging the back of his head.

“He struggled for 10 days to come back to us, but God took him to live with him,” she said, struggling to speak.

Erwin said the day after her son’s fatal fall, the family had planned to go get him an early Christmas present: the helmet he wanted.

In just over a month, on October 1, Conor’s Law, spearheaded by State Senator Cathy Osten, takes effect, requiring children under the age of 16 to wear helmets if they are skateboarding, rollerskating or in-line skating

“Every day, I look at myself in the mirror and I see a mom who failed her child,” Irwin said.

Of course, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Now, with the assistance of the state's two casinos, 75 specialty skateboarding helmets will be distributed to children in Ledyard, Montville and Norwich.

And Connecticut will become one of only three states to pass this type of legislation.