Injured teen's parents, medical experts encourage parents to talk to children about 'car surfing'

The parents and doctors who treated an Edmond teen critically injured when he was thrown from a vehicle while car surfing said Wednesday they hope parents will talk about the activity with their kids.
BY BRYAN DEAN bdean@opubco.com Published: April 10, 2013

Luke Smith might find it hard to view himself as lucky, but his doctors insist he is.

The Edmond teenager broke his hand, pelvis and left leg and was left with a traumatic brain injury after he was thrown from a sport utility vehicle while “car surfing” with friends last month. Medical experts said it is a wonder he is alive.

“Head and spine injuries can kill you with these kinds of cases,” said Jennifer Parrott, pediatric trauma program coordinator at OU Medical Center. “Anything less than that you are lucky to get away with.”

Smith, 15, was released Wednesday from The Children's Center in Bethany. Another boy injured in the same incident, Ashante Laquon Burris, 16, of Edmond, remains in critical condition at OU Medical Center.

Smith's parents, doctors and nurses talked about his case Wednesday at The Children's Center.

Dr. T.R. Lewis, Smith's orthopedic surgeon, said being thrown from a vehicle even at low speed can cause fatal injuries.

Phil and Shelley Smith said their son is doing “as well as could be expected” given the injuries he suffered. They hope his case will serve as a warning to other parents to learn about car surfing and talk to their kids about it before it's too late.

The incident

Smith and Burris and seven other boys were taking turns car surfing on a 2000 Chevy Blazer March 22 in an Edmond neighborhood, according to a police report. Smith and Burris took their turn with one of them lying on face down on a luggage rack on the roof of the SUV and the other standing on the bumper and holding on to the rack.

Cornelous Deshon Runnels, 15, was the driver. According to the report, Runnels was speeding on the 2000 block of Running Branch Road and swerving from side to side when Burris and Smith were thrown from the vehicle.

Both of them tumbled down the road and hit mailboxes. Burris' head hit a brick mailbox, causing life-threatening injuries to his brain and numerous broken bones in his shoulder and face. According to the police report, Burris' mother said he opened his eyes April 8 after being unconscious for 16 days.


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