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15-year-old car-surfer critically hurt

A 15-year-old boy was listed as very critical at University Medical Center on Tuesday after an apparent "car surfing" incident.

The teen was riding on the back of a car at about 6 p.m. Monday, holding a soft drink in one hand and hanging on to the trunk with the other, said West Valley Police Capt. Craig Black.

Near 6800 West and 3600 South, the teen fell off the car, which was being driven by a 16-year-old friend, sustaining serious head injuries. He was flown by medical helicopter to the hospital.

Because of the incident, police and emergency room doctors have issued a safety reminder of the dangers of car surfing.

In addition to being illegal, teenagers and others who are thinking about car surfing need to remember serious injury and death are very real possibilities, Black said.

Dr. Douglas Nelson, who works in the emergency room of Primary Children's Medical Center, said the human body was not built to go 50 mph, no matter if someone is standing on the hood of a moving car, being towed on a skateboard by a car or hanging on the car's bumper.

"You're moving at the speed of the car without any of the protection your car gives you," Nelson said.

From fractures to head trauma, Nelson said car surfing can result in injuring "just about every part of the body."

The central nervous system in particular is most at risk, he said, because that's something doctors cannot repair.

If the fall from the car doesn't hurt someone, Nelson said, there's always a chance another vehicle not watching might hit that person.

"When you screw up you're going to get pretty banged up," he said.

Going 25 mph or more doing such sports as biking, skateboarding or skiing should satisfy the need of thrill seekers to go fast, Nelson said. Car surfing on the other hand, "is not much of a sport. It's stupid."