Douglas County Sheriff’s Office is sounding the alarm and urging the public to be aware of “car surfing” in Douglas County.
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Car surfing involves riding on the outside of a moving vehicle being driven by another person. The activity is “incredibly dangerous” and the consequences can be fatal, the sheriff’s office said in a May 30 news release.
In the past several weeks, Douglas County sheriff’s deputies have responded to six calls involving “youngsters” engaging in that behavior, according to the news release. Some examples include:
• On April 17, a Douglas County deputy spotted two teenagers seated on the roof of a car, through the sunroof. The car was traveling over 55 mph on highway C-470 near Quebec Street.
• On May 12, a person reported taking pictures of a juvenile seated outside a vehicle, on the rear passenger ledge of a moving car, near Wildcat Reserve and Fairview parkways in Highlands Ranch.
• On May 5, Douglas County deputies were called to the scene of a rollover crash on Quarry Road near Finn Avenue — in the Lone Tree area — where two passengers were injured. One, a 16-year-old, later died. Witnesses reported seeing two passengers in the back seat outside the car’s windows, according to the sheriff's office.
(There were four people in the car, and the sheriff's office declined to specify whether the teenager who died was one of the passengers who was leaning out of a window.)
“Our thoughts and deepest condolences go out to the victim's family and friends during this unimaginably difficult time,” the sheriff’s office said in the news release.
Recently, the sheriff's office's first report related to car surfing came in on April 17.
"Prior to that, our traffic sergeant said he had not had a single report of this behavior in years," said Deborah Takahara, a spokesperson for the sheriff's office.
"Most of these cases involved juveniles, teenagers," Takahara said on May 31. "We did learn yesterday of (one) case involving two people in their early 20s who were stopped by deputies."
The six reports have been spaced out over the past six weeks, Takahara said.
“No thrill or adrenaline rush is worth sacrificing your life or the lives of your friends or family members,” the sheriff’s office said in the release.
Sheriff’s personnel urged the public to remember the following points:
• Never succumb to peer pressure or feel compelled to engage in dangerous activities for the sake of fitting in or seeking thrill.
• Speak out: If you notice someone planning or participating in car surfing or any other dangerous stunts, don't stay silent. Speak up and report it to the appropriate authorities or a trusted adult.
• Educate others: Share this message with your friends, family and social media followers. “Together, we can spread awareness and prevent further tragedies,” the news release said.
• Drivers can face serious criminal charges, including the following: reckless driving, various seatbelt violations depending on the age of passengers, permitting a person to hang on or attach themselves to the outside of a vehicle, permitting a passenger to ride in an unsafe manner, reckless endangerment, third-degree assault, vehicular assault or vehicular homicide.
• A person not riding correctly could face a charge of “person hung on/attached themselves to the outside of vehicle.”
Douglas County Sheriff Darren Weekly said in the news release: “We need to work together to prevent further tragedies.”
“Our priority is to ensure the safety and well-being of each and every one of our residents,” Weekly said in the release. “Please remember to stay safe, make responsible choices and encourage others to do the same.”
Note: A news release from the Douglas County Sheriff's Office referred to what it called the "recent death of a teenager due to 'car surfing' in Douglas County." In response to questions from Colorado Community Media, the sheriff's office declined to specify whether the teenager who died was one of the passengers who was leaning out of a window. The story has been updated to reflect the sheriff's office's comments to CCM.
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