On August 22, 1998, at approximately 3:30 a.m., Phil Shao died in an automobile accident near the Oregon/California state line. The details are still hazy, but the gist of the tragedy is that Phil and a few Northern California friends were on a tour of skateparks along the West Coast. At 11:00 p.m. on Friday the 21st, most of the gang was asleep at a local skater’s house. Phil woke up a few of them to see if they wanted to go somewhere with him and a girl he’d recently met (nobody is sure where they were headed). Everybody was tired and declined the invitation. The girl was driving while intoxicated and drove off a cliff. The girl was not seriously injured. Phil died.
You can think of how ironic it is that this was Phil’s first major skate trip since rehabilitating his knee for almost a year (he had his anterior cruciate ligament replaced). You can think of how, before the tour, this veteran professional marked all the skate stops on the travel map like an excited kid. You can think of the pain his family and friends are going through. You can think of how his life¿and death¿has affected everybody in the skateboard industry, from people who barely knew him to close friends. You can think of his skating ability. And you can think of uncountable ways that he’ll be missed, and how much it sucks that Phil Shao died on August 22, 1998. But we all do think of him.