GREENPOINT — The Brooklyn father crushed to death by a delivery truck that he had been holding onto while riding his skateboard on the Lower East Side was mourned Wednesday by friends and fellow boarders.
Richard Oates, 32, known as Rich to his friends, was the owner of East River Skate Shop on Greenpoint Avenue. Opening the shop had fulfilled a dream for him, according to a feature on boarding website NY Skateboarding.
The Long Island-born father of two had been working as a chef at Freeman's restaurant on the Lower East Side before deciding to open his own shop with his wife near their Greenpoint home.
"I found myself having to be an a--hole to get people to listen to me," he told NY Magazine this summer.
"I got back into skateboarding a while ago as a way to blow off steam, so the jump to a skate shop seemed logical."
Oates died Tuesday while skateboarding down Delancey near Norfolk Street around 1 p.m. He was holding onto the side of a truck and lost his balance and slipped under its rear tires, officials said.
News of his death quickly swept through the city's skateboarding community.
In the memory of Richard Oates owner of @eastriverskateshop #rip 1983-2016 #love Your #enthusiasm and great #soul will remain alive in my heart I'm #grateful to have met you and glad I was there when you needed help at the shop. Thank you for your supporting of the NY female skateboard community #femmeskate @femmeskate All my love to his sweet family and friends. #ny #nyc #nyskateboarding #skateboard #skateboarding🌹❤️🙏
@nyskateboarding So sad. Was just at the shop a couple weeks ago and he was one of the nicest shop owners I've ever met.— Steven R (@StevenR10) January 13, 2016
"His shop in Greenpoint was a place where all people could come and feel comfortable," said his close friends Michael Becker, who was the first one to be notified by police of Oates death.
"He's passed away leaving two amazing young boys and a wife."
Hours after his death, another one of his friends had set up a fundraising campaign for his family.
"As the owner of East River Skate Shop, Rich was a vital leader in the New York skateboarding community," wrote his friend Graham Jones.
"Those who spent time with Rich will remember him for his humility, kindness and sense of humor."
"Skating is all he talked about," said Todd Schmiedlin, a barista at Budin, a café down the street from the skate shop. He recalled Oates' telling him on many occasions: "'Yeah it's a good day, I got to skate.'"