Kona’s Matthew Slaven stable following Santa Cruz shooting

Factory rider shot in apparent mugging near downtown Monday evening

Matthew Slaven riding in Oak Creek, Arizona, this spring. Slaven was shot during an apparent mugging Monday night in Santa Cruz, California. Photo: John Gibson

Kona Factory rider Matthew Slaven is recovering in a San Jose-area hospital after being shot last night in an apparent mugging while he was in Santa Cruz for an Easton-Bell Sports sales meeting. Slaven is a team rider and sales rep for Bell helmets, a company based in nearby Scotts Valley. He is in stable condition and doctors are optimistic for his recovery.

According to a statement released by Easton-Bell Sports, Slaven was walking through a local park with three others when they were reportedly robbed, and Slaven sustained a gunshot wound to his shoulder.

The shell reportedly shattered Slaven's clavicle and is lodged in his neck near an artery and his esophagus.

Slaven, 36, has become known over the past few years for his success racing on the North American and European enduro circuit. He lives in Portland, Oregon, with his wife and 2-year-old daughter, who are now with him in San Jose.

Brett Hahn, manager of Continental North America, where Slaven works as a tech rep, said the group was walking through a park to get a slice of pizza at the time of the apparent mugging attempt.

"He’s good, just bummed about the races he’s going to miss," stated a text update that was sent to Slaven’s friends on Tuesday afternoon. "[He’s] still in a bit of shock as expected, but good spirits, making jokes and looking at the bright side of the fact he’s okay. Injury list is [a] broken collarbone, bruised lung and esophagus. They are leaving the bullet in for now because it would be too dangerous to remove. [They will be] moving him out of ICU as soon as a room is available.”

The Santa Cruz Sentinel newspaper reported today that a 36-year-old Oregon man was shot just after 10 p.m. on Monday while walking with friends in San Lorenzo Park. The Santa Cruz Police Department did not release the name of the victim, who was shot after a man with a bandana over his face approached the group and demanded their wallets. The man reportedly fired before the group could comply.

Stephen Baxter, the Sentinel reporter who is covering the story, said that San Lorenzo Park is poorly lit and could be considered dangerous after dark. But it is common for people to access downtown from the park, especially since a new hotel called the Paradox has opened nearby, Baxter said.

"It's dark. There are huge trees. It's right next to the Santa Rosa River on the edge of downtown. The park is at the back of the Hotel Paradox, where there is a big parking lot that's lit up, but past the parking lot it's dark and not a good place to be," Baxter said. During the day, San Lorenzo Park is a regular hangout for the city's homeless population, he said.

Slaven was the 2011 North American Enduro Tour Champion and is a regular in the Oregon Enduro Series, placing 6th in the pro men’s division at the Hood River Enduro in late May.

“The entire Easton-Bell Sports team wishes one of its own a very speedy recovery and sends its thoughts, well wishes and support to Slaven, his family and friends,” read the Easton-Bell statement.

Click here to read the Sentinel story.